© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Texas Nurses Are Overwhelmed And Hospitals Are Nearing Capacity Amid Delta Surge

Ways To Subscribe
Dr. Joseph Varon, 58, prepares to enter the COVID unit at United Memorial Medical Center in May. With him are nurses Tanna Ingraham (left) and Jerusha Harshman (right).
Dr. Joseph Varon, 58, prepares to enter the COVID unit at United Memorial Medical Center in May. With him are nurses Tanna Ingraham (left) and Jerusha Harshman (right).

Health care professionals are sounding the alarm about the rapidly rising rates of new COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions and calling on Texans to do their part to help beat the virus as facilities near capacity and nurses are pushed to the point of exhaustion.

The state's COVID hospitalizations quadrupled in July. The majority of those hospitalized have been unvaccinated, as were the more than 99.5% of people in Texas who died due to COVID-19 between Feb. 8 and July 14, according to preliminary state data.

Nine million eligible Texans still have not received a single shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

During 2020's summer surge, the state paused elective surgeries and other in-patient procedures but has yet to do so again this summer, which means nurses are handling regularly scheduled procedures on top of the influx of COVID patients.

The Texas Nurses Association says that as admissions rise, nurses are more exposed and testing positive even when vaccinated.

Hospitals were dealing with a nursing shortage pre-COVID and are now grappling with even more vacancies as burned-out nurses of all specialties leave the profession or take more lucrative positions elsewhere.

According to the Texas Workforce Commission. there are 23,000 more unfilled jobs in Texas for registered nurses than there are nurses seeking to fill them.

Texas lawmakers failed to pass legislation this session to address the state’s critical shortage of nurses and cut the budget for the Nursing Shortage Reduction Program to boost nursing school enrollment.

Gov. Abbott also declined to include the issue on subsequent special-session agendas, even as the Delta variant strains hospital staffs across Texas

Guest: Serena Bumpus, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, practice director for the Texas Nurses Association

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Tuesday, August 10.