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Health care workers ‘exhausted’ by surging COVID-19 cases, record hospitalizations

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana hospital workers are “exhausted” and at risk of burnout while facing a surge of COVID-19 patients, state health officials said.

Hospital admissions in Indiana for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases are at their highest level since the start of the pandemic.

The total number of confirmed cases in Indiana jumped more than 200% between Sept. 15 and Oct. 25.

The flood of new cases could eclipse Indiana’s “first wave” of coronavirus and overwhelm fatigued frontline workers, public health experts warned.

Pandemic-related staffing challenges have already prompted some Indiana hospitals to delay elective surgical procedures, according to Dr. Kris Box, the state health commissioner.

“Perhaps the greatest strain right now is in our hospital workforce, which is in the ninth month of responding to this pandemic and facing the greatest patient load yet,” Box said Wednesday during a virtual Statehouse briefing.

The Indiana Health Care Workforce Reserve receives approximately three to five requests every day from hospitals in need of staffing assistance, a new trend that concerned health officials.

In the spring, most staffing assistance requests were submitted by long-term care facilities.

Izzie van Zuylen, an Indianapolis resident whose aunt is a nurse, urged Hoosiers to honor frontline heroes by remaining vigilant and not succumbing to pandemic fatigue.

“I think for those health care workers still on the front lines, it’s really intense and people forget that,” she said. “It’s been really crazy for her, figuring out when she can see her kids.”

The Health Care Workforce Reserve is recruiting student and professional volunteers.