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Nebraska hospitals close to being overwhelmed, experts say

Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 4:44 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - An urgent message from health care experts: hospitals in Nebraska are dangerously close to being overwhelmed.

Officials say they are still weeks away from feeling the impact of the 305 new cases of COVID-19 reported by the Douglas County Health Department on Friday.

Now, there’s an issue staffing our health care facilities.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts' new health directive announced Friday requires all hospitals must have 10 percent of their general beds and ICU beds available at all times for COVID-19 patients.

Health care leaders say they are doing okay on beds right now, but staffing those beds is needed.

Dr. James Lawler oversees the department of internal medicine at UNMC.

He says right now our communities are seeing more cases of COVID-19 than we saw back in May.

And our cases are still going up.

It’s creating a dire situation at hospitals.

As a result, $40 million in CARES Act monies will now go towards finding the staff needed.

“I’ve personally witnessed it myself, I’ve gone to several hospitals, I’ve talked to several nurses, several physicians, several staff and I know how tired they are getting so hopefully with increasing the staffing needs we’ll be able to help that out," Dr. Gary Anthone.

The funds will also help pay for overtime and extra shifts.

Along with that-- the state plans to bring in nurses from other states.

“To go out and start seeking what we call traveling staff, traveling nurses, traveling respiratory therapists, travelers so to speak to help get them up and oriented and then trained in those specific hospitals," Anthone added.

Those nurses, though come with a higher price tag.

Some of the money will also go towards paying the current front-line workers' hazard pay.

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