Front-Line Nurses Voice Concerns As COVID-19 Hospitalizations Surge

Intensive care units are at or near capacity, creating potential staffing issues

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As the number of positive COVID-19 cases skyrocket and hospitalizations increase in San Diego County, front-line nurses who are caring for patients are imploring residents to follow public health orders.

“I would say to the public, this is real, this is not going to go away as long as we don’t try to socially distance, wear your mask, that’s the only way to protect the population,” said Sue Phillips, RN, from Palomar Medical Center in Escondiddo.

Until last week, the number of local hospitalizations due to COVID-19 had been considered stable.

But on Friday, the county hit a hospitalization trigger, meaning there was more than 19% increase of COVID cases over a three day period. That trend continued over the weekend.

“Our ICU currently is full, we can’t admit any patients right now, and it’s an ebb and flow every day of seeing who can we move out, so we can get a sicker patient in,” said Phillips.

Nurses at Sharp Memorial in San Diego are also voicing similar concerns over the increase number of hospitalizations.

“We have two ICU’s in my hospital. They have been full to the point where we had to open a separate ICU floor. Fortunately our hospital has the capacity,” said Andrea Muir, RN.

Muir says the increase in hospitalized patients could potentially impact staffing.

“We are at the point where we’re having to potentially spread out our ICU nurses among more patients then is safe. And more patients that is allowed by law in normal circumstances. It could get et to the point where you have COVID 19, you require ICU care, but there is no ICU nurse to take care of you,” Muir.

For front line hospital workers the trend is concerning.

On Saturday, Scripps Health said it’s system had their highest single-day number of hospitalized COVID patients to date on Friday at 126 total among our five hospital campuses in San Diego County.

Scripps Mercy Chula Vista, Mercy SD on Friday hit single day highs with 38 COVID inpatients a piece.

“It’s not going away, it’s rapidly spreading still, and you go out and you act irresponsibly, and you personally may not be impacted, but your grandpa or your neighbor or somebody in the grocery story perhaps even, that you can be given to,” said Phillips.

“Take it seriously, socially distance, wear our mask in public and stay home if you don’t need to go anywhere. We don’t have a way to predict who will die from this. Just because you are healthy does not mean you won’t be able to beat this virus,” said Muir.

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