Nebraska hospitals face ‘stark’ situation as cases climb

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Nebraska doctors are calling for the public to take steps to slow the spread of the triple-threat viruses: COVID-19, RSV, and influenza.

Hospitals began seeing cases of RSV back in early October, around three months before it normally peaks.

This caused concern for many hospitals, and now the flu is hitting hard as well.

Nebraska hospital representatives joined a Zoom conference on Monday to talk about what their worries are this winter.

Jeremy Nordquist, president of the Nebraska Hospital Association, said many hospitals are facing similar struggles.

“Our hospitals are entering a very challenging time,” he said. “And quite frankly, we need Nebraskans to help us with it.”

The main concerns that were brought up were high emergency room visits, long waits and extended hospital stays.

Nordquist said COVID-19 cases are becoming a concern as well.

“It’s pretty stark when you look at the numbers,” he said. “With COVID, we’re pretty close to where we were last year at this time in terms of emergency room visits due to COVID-19.”

All of the doctors stressed the importance of calling your health care provider before going into the emergency room unless you are experiencing severe symptoms.

“Our emergency rooms are busy,” said Dr. Cary Ward, the chief medical officer at CHI Health in Omaha. “You’re likely to experience a significant wait, particularly if you have a minor illness.”

Each doctor said it’s important to keep up to date on vaccinations for both the flu and COVID-19 to avoid reaching extreme numbers like they have in the past couple of years.

Dr. John Trapp, the chief medical officer at Bryan Health in Lincoln, said his staff is already feeling the strain.

“I will tell you, our workforce remains tired,” he said. “They’ve been through a long number of years. We still have openings, we still use travelers. Those make a significant difference in the care we provide.”

The doctors agreed that the only way to start slowing the illnesses down is for the public to take steps to stay healthy on their own.

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