Hawaii nurses overworked, weary, emotional over toll of new COVID-19 surge

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — 340%. All it took was a month of the COVID-19 Delta variant ripping through Hawaii for hospitalizations to skyrocket that high from July 1 to Aug. 1. 34 COVID patients began the month of July in Hawaii’s hospitals. 150 now occupy beds.

The rapid increase is putting a strain on hospital capacity and medical professionals who are overworked, short-staffed, and weary from the horrors of COVID-19.

“To say that somebody can’t breathe, it’s a completely different story when you witness it yourself,” Queen’s COVID ICU Registered Nurse Kelly Moore said. “At that time they’re asking can I get vaccinated, it’s too late. These people are in their young 20’s, 30’s, 40’s they have children at home. Young children.”

The Hawaii Nurses Association says it is happening state-wide.

“I know what some of my colleagues have been through are things that they’re going to have to deal with for the rest of their lives,” HNA President Daniel Ross said. “There’s real cases of PTSD.”

Traveling nurses were used as a band-aid in Hawaii to cover surges and staffing shortages last year.

“The short-staffing has been an ongoing issue,” Queen’s COVID ICU Registered Nurse Candace Silva said. “Now that cases are rising it’s even worse. She just picked up another eight-hour shift last week. I just came off of a double last night.”

For some, the strain has pushed them to a breaking point.

“I have nurses telling me almost every day that they can’t go on,” Ross said. “They’re looking for other jobs or to quit and leave the profession altogether because it’s just too much.”

It’s not just the hours that are upsetting them.

“We’re seeing this every day and it’s all preventable with a free shot, so how can we not be frustrated?” Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Infection Control Director Jacob Schafer said.

As COVID cases rise, these frontline workers have this message:

“To think that this is preventable, it takes an emotional toll on you,” Moore said. “Because us as nurses we want to help you. We only can do so much for the public. With this surge in cases, case counts going up, and the lack of beds and qualified nurses to take care of these patients, there’s a lot of people that are going to die and they don’t have to.”

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