coronavirus illinois

As COVID Cases Rise and Omicron Looms, Illinois Medical Workers Express Frustrations

NBC Universal, Inc.

As Illinois hospitals face another surge in COVID patients, and with the threat of the omicron variant looming, burned-out health care workers are pleading with the public to take reasonable precautions as the holiday season ramps up.

“It’s hard when I read what I wrote eight months into the pandemic, and now we’re 20 months in and it’s all still going on,” Carol Williams, an ICU nurse in Aurora, told NBC 5.

Williams first spoke to NBC last year, and she’s talking again this holiday season, urging residents to take steps to help do their part to end the pandemic once and for all.

“We’re just said,” she said. “You know, we’re sad because it doesn’t have to be this way.”

As of Thursday night, the last date for which there is published data, the state of Illinois has 275 intensive care unit beds open, representing just 9% of the total staffed beds in the state.

There were 787 COVID patients in ICU beds, while a total of 3,783 patients were hospitalized due to COVID. That number represents the largest number of COVID hospitalizations the state has seen in nearly a year, according to Illinois Department of Public Health data.

Frontline workers are feeling the strain that COVID cases are putting on the system, with staffing at hospitals thinning out due to burn-out and a variety of other factors.

While COVID hospitalizations are still below historic highs, the virus is having a huge effect on bed availability for individuals suffering from other medical emergencies.

“There’s still a chance you’re going to get in a car accident or have a heart attack. It makes the care for those other very-treatable conditions less than ideal,” Dr. Regina Royan, an emergency room phyisician, said.

Royan says that her emergency room is overflowing with patients, and she says she has been pushed to the brink over the last 20 months.

“As health care workers, we’ve been seeing and dealing with this every day, and we’ve been trying to give the best care that we can,” she said. “Now we know there are solutions that are proven effective, safe and work to keep people out of the hospital. It’s frustrating to see a lot of patients coming in unvaccinated.”

Both Williams and Royan say that they are taking every precaution they can, and are encouraging others to do the same, whether it’s getting a COVID vaccine, vaccinated individuals getting their booster shots, and everyone to wear masks while out in public.

Even still, they are becoming increasingly frustrated as cases rise.

“It’s just preventable,” Williams said.

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