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UGA Expert on COVID Surge and Healthcare Staff Burnout

Rising cases of COVID-19 are taxing hospital resources around the state and here in Athens. Locally, the number of in-patient and ICU beds have both been above 90% capacity several times. Dr. Grace Bagwell Adams is with the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health.

She says the recent spikes caused by the delta variant are not just adding to the strain on local health care infrastructure, but they’re also taxing health care workers at those facilities.

“These people are exhausted, they have been serving our patients and our communities now for over a year and a half,” according to Bagwell Adams. “This is their fourth wave, it’s not just our fourth wave, but it’s the community’s, and they’re so tired.”

She says that fatigue is a cause for alarm.

A lot of people are quitting because they can't keep up with the sustained stress.

“That kind of sustained stress, that traumatic stress is really concerning because we’re seeing a lot of burnout. A lot of people are quitting because they can’t keep up with the sustained stress.”

Bagwell Adams says seasonal fluctuations in hospital bed use are expected, especially during a typical cold or flu season. Unfortunately, COVID infections are not dropping in the same manner.

“Until this past July when we really saw some of the best effects of the vaccine and people getting the vaccine hit, from that period between March 2020 and July 2021, every time we came down from a wave, we never returned to where it was before.”

You can hear more from Dr. Bagwell Adams on Athens News Matters.

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