Wilbarger General seeks staffing during second wave of COVID-19

Local News

VERNON (KFDX/KJTL) — Rural hospitals in Texoma are being hit by the second wave of COVID-19 and it is resulting in a shortage of staffing for some hospitals.

Officials say they have received help with some travel nurses and other agencies but they still need staffing as they serve Wilbarger County and other patients from surrounding areas.

Front line workers have received lots of recognition and love throughout the pandemic. But medical workers are still battling the virus and other ailments in hospitals and staff numbers are dwindling.

“I think there’s been a shortage of nurses nationwide. I think it hits a little bit harder in rural areas where it’s a little bit harder to recruit and we have less of a workforce here,” Wilbarger General Hospital Medical Director Dr. Travis Lehman said.

Wilbarger General Hospital has received help from travel nurses from the state and other agencies. The hospital was at full capacity up until this week mainly because of staffing issues and taking patients from surrounding areas and even patients from as far as Houston shows that many hospitals are experiencing the same problem.

“A lot of the hospitals are understaffed and then a lot of the hospitals when they get some of the higher acuity patients they don’t have the same resources that what we have right now available,” Lehman said.

White House Doctor Marcella Nunez-Smith says President Biden has invested more than a billion dollars to help rural communities. But the vaccine can help prevent many hospitalizations.

“The vaccines are holding. They’re doing exactly what we expected them to do preventing hospitalizations, preventing death and so what I really want to make sure people hear and understand is that it’s not too late to get vaccinated,” Nunez-Smith said.

As Wilbarger General has beds open for now, they hope to beat this current wave.

“Our staff are still recovering from the initial surge. So as the second wave comes through we’re just taking one day at a time and we’re just doing what we can do,” Wilbarger General Hospital Interim Chief Nursing Officer Leah Saylor said.

“A lot of people are anxious to see how bad it’s going to get. Right now it’s not too bad for us as far as the number of COVID patients in the county. However, we kind of lag behind everybody last year so we’re expecting a surge coming up,” Lehman said.

Support and resources going to the frontline workers who need it most.

Lehman also says they hope to receive more travel nurses soon from other agencies.

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