COVID-19 surge means grueling hours during holidays for nurses

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Nurses say they'll be sacrificing time with their own families to care for patients this holiday season.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the surge of COVID-19-positive patients continues, a spokesperson from the Oregon Center for Nursing said it’s taking a toll on those who are working grueling shifts to care for patients. 

Jana Bitton, executive director of Oregon Center for Nursing, said if things keep going the way they are, nursing staff resources will be at a breaking point and there will be fewer people to care for the sick.

“We are going to start getting to the point where it’s going to be harder and harder to get health care professionals, nurses, respiratory therapists, physicians, because that is a very limited resource that you can’t just set up a factory and build,” she said.

She said people can help stop the spread of the virus by wearing masks around others outside the home, but some people still refuse to do that. 

“It’s frustrating to them that they are working as hard as they can and they have been, since the beginning of the pandemic and yet we are still having this surge and the surge is exactly the way everyone described it was going to be back in the beginning of the summer and it’s still really difficult,” Bitton said. “It’s very difficult for them, basically mentally and just the absolute stress that’s being put on them right now.” 

She said most nurses she’s talked with will be sacrificing their family time over the holidays to care for patients.

Another issue is the fact that there are no traveling backup nurses available to relieve those on the front lines.

“We are hearing a lot about how the cavalry isn’t coming. The whole United States is a hotspot right now,” Bitton said.

Bitton said they are in their own communities, their own states, trying to take care of what’s happening there. 

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