34 travel nurses arrive at Amarillo area hospitals as delta variant surge continues

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 12:16 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Amarillo hospitals accepted 34 nurses through state and federal agencies within the last 24 hours to assist with a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The majority of hospitalized patients in Amarillo are infected with the delta variant, and the high-transmission rate of the variant is thought to be partially responsible for a surge in cases.

During the surge, hospitals are battling a shortage in staff and expressing an increased need for nurses and respiratory therapists to care for patients, including those not infected with COVID-19.

“We are in a very difficult situation now when it comes to being able to manage patients in our community and our region,” said Dr. Michael Lamanteer, chief medical officer at BSA.

At Northwest Texas Hospital, every hospitalized COVID patient has tested positive for the delta variant.

“We are seeing people die with this delta variant, particularly younger people,” said Dr. Brian Weis, Chief Medical Officer for NWTH.

NWTH is caring for 55 patients with COVID-19; 51 are unvaccinated; 32 are in ICU; and 15 patients are on ventilators.

The hospital received 17 nurses from FEMA to assist with the cases within the last 24 hours. BSA Hospital received 17 nurses and nine respiratory therapists through the RAC.

Staffing has been a recurrent issue at both hospitals throughout the pandemic, now causing repercussions for those seeking healthcare, including those dealing with serious illness not related to COVID-19.

“The COVID burden is translating now to people who don’t have COVID, in terms of their access to healthcare,” said Dr. Lamanteer. “We’ve had to have physicians delay surgeries that are not emergent at this time. Other patients that don’t have COVID are being impacted adversely....we’re doing everything we can to accommodate the need in our community.”

BSA is caring for 78 patients with COVID-19. The majority of these patients are unvaccinated, and 51% are younger than 60 years of age.

Dr. Lamanteer said, upon review, vaccinated individuals who have died after battling COVID-19 dealt with significant immune conditions and may have taken certain medications that affected their ability to fight the virus.

“It’s a very small number. Those patients have significant, unfortunate immune-compromising diseases,” he said. “They cannot mount an innate immune response on their own to fight off infection, and they likely did not have a good response to the vaccine when they got it.”

He said those concerned about long-term side effects from the vaccine should be more concerned with the long-term effects of COVID-19 reported to Amarillo doctors.

“People should be far more concerned about what the lasting affects are from a COVID infection,” he said.

According to Dr. Lamanteer, those previously infected with COVID-19 have complained of chronic shortness of breath, fatigue, inability to concentrate, brain fog and long-lasting loss of taste and smell.

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