Joliet Nurse Says We Just Can't Keep Up Amid Second Surge of COVID-19

"The most important thing you can do for us is wear your mask and let's try to stop this."

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Some hospitals across Illinois are getting dangerously close or have reached capacity limits when it comes to treating patients for COVID-19.

One hospital in the southwest suburbs is treating close to double the number of COVID-19 patients in a matter of weeks.

“We’re doing the best that we can but it is extremely stressful nurses are feeling overwhelmed and specifically overworked,” said Patricia Meade, who is a nurse at Amita Health Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet.

A spokesperson told NBC 5 as of Tuesday the hospital was treating 69 patients for COVID-19. Two weeks ago that number was around 38 patients.

“We have opened several units designated them as COVID units it’s like when we had a surge in the beginning,” Meade said.

Meade has been a nurse for 34 years, and is also the Vice President of the Illinois Nurses Association.

She said there was a shortage of ventilators and PPE at the beginning of the pandemic and now she’s worried there might not even be enough beds for her patients.

“The need still exist and so we have to make due we have to do the best we can,” Meade stated.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Will County is part of Region 7, which includes Kankakee. As of Tuesday night, the region only had 23 intensive care unit beds available out of 162.

“If you fall below 20%-- it’s dangerous,” said Steve Brandy, who is the public information officer for the Will County Health Department.

Brandy and his team saw a jump in the number of confirmed cases after Halloween and the election.

The positivity rate in Will County is 19.9%. Brandy's concern now is people gathering for Thanksgiving.

“Just that we use common sense this Thanksgiving holiday and try to keep things from getting worse and hopefully we can get it better by Christmas and New Year’s,” he said.

Meanwhile, more opportunities are now available for people to get tested in Will County. Just this week, the Illinois Department of Public Health opened a free COVID testing location on Mission Boulevard in Joliet.

Meade said several nurses at her hospital have tested positive for the virus. A hospital spokesperson told NBC 5 in a statement 14 employees are out on COVID-19 related furlough at the medical center, but did not specify exactly how many of them are nurses.

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