Hospitals brace for possible staff shortages as Omicron spreads
With case numbers rising and the Omicron variant spreading fast, hospitals are bracing for a shortage of critical workers.
Hospital staff can't work from home, so if there are a few cases of COVID-19 in the building, there could be serious staff shortages.
Dr. Sharon Kiely is Hartford HealthCare's chief wellness officer - they own St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport.
Kiely says their network doesn’t foresee any staff shortages at this point, but they are taking extra steps just in case.
"We've been doing things, such as moving patients...from inpatient surgical locations to outpatient surgical locations, when it's safe," said Kiely.
At Norwalk Hospital, they're focusing on recruiting new staff members. For staff, they're working on competitive pay and incentives to get them to work extra shifts.
“We have been working collaboratively to create ways to retain existing staff, including the creation of new training opportunities, and to provide additional compensation for working extra shifts,” said Andrea Rynn, a spokesperson for Nuvance Health, which owns Norwalk and Danbury hospitals.
Hospitals can also bring in out-of-state workers. For the next 60 days, Connecticut is waiving state license requirements for doctors, nurses and some social workers.
"This will help with telehealth for people who have established relationships with people outside of the state, but also would allow for people to be able to come and practice in-state," said Dr. Manisha Juthani, Connecticut public health commissioner.
Gov. Ned Lamont says the situation is different than 2020.
"They've all been vaccinated -- 99% have been vaccinated, wearing a mask. Most of them have gotten a booster. So I feel really good about that," said Lamont.
But elsewhere, the situation is already dire. In Maine, the National Guard is helping hospitals.
"Their presence here is like a great Christmas gift. It really is," said Central Maine Health Care CEO Steven Littleson.
The Yale New Haven Health System announced Wednesday it will require proof of vaccinations for all visitors, in an attempt to keep COVID-19 out of its hospitals.