LUBBOCK, Texas – There have been close to five thousand new cases of COVID in Lubbock in this week alone, and hospital capacity in our trauma area is now over 20 percent. Health officials with both Covenant Health Center and University Medical Center said it’s putting a heavy strain on our hospitals.

Covenant Health Center’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brain Schroeder said the increase in cases and ongoing staffing shortages are exasperating the healthcare system.  

“The staff is tired. They’re fatigued. The worst part about it, I think, is the fact that there’s no end in sight,” Dr. Schroeder said. “There’s a lot of people in the community that are blowing this off. Worse yet, there are some that ridicule caregivers for being overzealous or being over exaggerating. You want to know how bad it really is? Let me tell you, it’s not an exaggeration. It’s really tough for them.” 

Schroeder said omicron has driven many patients through their doors, and things are not projected to change any time soon. He also stressed that this current wave has taken a heavy toll on the medical staff. 

UMC’s Chief Medical Officer Michael Ragain, MD, said they have 25 patients in the ICU and many of them are on ventilators. COVID hospitalizations are sitting at 20.23 percent in the area, reflecting just how contagious this variant is. Ragain said the latest surge combined with staffing shortages are desperately straining the system. 

“We are really struggling with lots of employees out,” Ragain said. “I think today we had 210 employees out with presumably omicron. 210, we’d have to go all the way back to November of 2020. To get to that level of the number of employees who are out.”   

Dr. Schroeder said it’s not enough to take a snapshot of the number of patients sick with COVID. To fully grasp the weight of the situation, we have to think about how hospitals are overwhelmed by these cases while simultaneously taking care of patients for other reasons.  Which is all fairly beyond the capacity the system is equipped to handle. 

“When we take the number of people that are coming to the hospital with omicron, and we factor in that, there are fewer staff available to be able to take care of the folks with omicron,” Dr. Schroeder said. “On top of the other business that we’re doing saving people with heart attacks and people in car accidents, and folks who need a knee replacement, all that other kind of business that we are trying to do, it makes for a very difficult day for our caregivers.”

Covenant Health confirmed they’re expecting 46 travel nurses soon. However, doctors are asking people to take further precautions to protect themselves from contracting the virus. Examples include getting vaccinated, social distancing, and wearing a mask.  For more information and guidance from the CDC click the link