As COVID-19 hospitalizations spike, NC health care providers overworked; nursing shortage continues


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNC) — Nearly 3,000 people in North Carolina are in the hospital because of COVID-19 with 25 percent of those patients in the ICU and 14 percent are on ventilators.

All those patients mean more hours and stress for already overworked medical providers.

Dennis Taylor, president of the North Carolina Nurses Association, said he didn’t think he’d be in this position again. The state’s 2,828 hospitalized patient count is the highest since Jan. 30, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

“What continues to probably bother me the most is all the people who still don’t believe that this thing is real,” Taylor said.

Taylor is an acute care nurse practitioner who normally works in a Trauma Intensive Care Unit, but is now juggling multiple roles, including caring for patients with COVID-19.

“You have to prioritize and triage what your job responsibilities are,” Taylor said. “In many cases, it means we’re taking care of patients that we normally would not be taking care of simply because there aren’t enough providers to be able to do that.”

As COVID-19 hospitalizations climb, Taylor said there’s a statewide shortage of nurses. He said some hospital systems have about 700 openings.

“We have physical beds, what we don’t have are the staff to take care of the patients that we put in those beds,” Taylor said.

He said while the shortages aren’t new, they are incredibly taxing on current nurses and leading to longer hours. Through it all, he said the most satisfying part of his job is being there for COVID-19 patients when their families can’t be.

“Unfortunately, for those patients who are really critically ill their families can’t be there with them and that is really difficult,” Taylor said. “And I think for me being able to provide, I think that at least that human touch bridge for them is what’s really most important.”

Taylor is urging people who are not vaccinated to get a shot as soon as they can.

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