MEMPHIS, Tenn.– The highly transmissible Omicron variant is taking a toll on those who are on the front lines, including hospital systems and their staff.
WREG asked hospitals in Memphis how staff has been faring with infection rates.
A spokesperson with Baptist told us on Friday that 757 employees were out because of COVID-19 but said that was for the entire health care system not just the Memphis market.
The spokesperson telling us, in part, “We are monitoring the situation and making adjustments in staffing so that we can continue to provide care for our patients and the community. We are grateful for the flexibility and resilience of our team members. They have shown themselves to be true heroes during this COVID-19 pandemic.”
At Methodist Le Bonheur, a spokesperson told us the number of people out sick fluctuates daily, saying with Omicron’s rapid spread and transmissibility, the hospital group is seeing more people test positive compared to any other time in the pandemic “COVID-19 continues to exacerbate staffing challenges that were present across the country before the pandemic hit and that is even more prevalent with this current strain.”
Dr. Steve Threlkeld, infectious disease specialist with Baptist, recently addressed the high positivity rate.
“A virus this contagious will sweep through pretty quickly, but the problem is it does that damage while it is sweeping through. We hope that it will come down quickly, but the regionalism of our country may make it last longer,” he said.
Baptist and Methodist Le Bonheur didn’t provide anyone to speak about the issue, but they have been encouraging the community to use the emergency department when truly needed to prevent delaying care for those who need it immediately.