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Hospitals working to save bed space and keep workforce healthy

Hundreds of healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19, though hospitals say it's a small percentage of their staff.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Hospitals are working to protect both their bed space and workforce as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to surge across the state.  

Dr. John Burk is a pulmonologist with Texas Pulmonary Critical Care Consultant treating COVID-19 patients at several hospitals including Harris Methodist.

He says across the area, there’s been a noticeable uptick in patients in their 30s and 40s.

“There’s been clearly a transition occur at the hospital,” Burk said. “Over the weekend, we have seen a significant upturn in the number of patients seen.”

In the past month, COVID-19 hospitalizations have nearly quadrupled, but it’s not just bed space that’s the issue. Workers haven’t been immune from the virus.

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“The people I worry about are those frontline people who have been doing this for three and a half to four months,” said Stephen Love, the president of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council.

Loves says beds shortages could be a problem in two or three weeks, and hospitals are closely watching staffing, too.  

“Having the beds and having the PPE without the workforce isn’t going to do any good,” Love said.

JPS Health and UT Southwestern have been transparent with their cases, sharing they’ve had 154 and 121 employee cases respectively so far. JPS has nearly doubled its number two weeks.

Parkland reported that less than 2 percent of employees tested positive. Baylor Scott & White says 1 percent of employees who see COVID patients tested positive.

Texas Health Resources wouldn’t share any details about cases in healthcare workers.

RELATED: Tarrant County sees sharp uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations

Love says large hospital groups can move workers around as needed. They’ve already reached out to the state for help and can lean on the military if it’s ever needed.

“We’ve got more ahead,” Burk said. “We’re all going have to be supportive of each other to get through it. Everybody needs a break.”

To keep beds empty and workers safe, both Burk and Love are begging people to again wear masks and distance.

“Healthcare workers have protected themselves very well,” Love said. “If we can slow the spread, it’s going to make things so much better.”

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