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'It’s like a warzone': Nurses, doctors describe what it’s like inside North Texas hospitals

"What we really struggle with on a day-to-day basis is finding enough nurses, finding enough RTs, finding enough doctors," Parkland Dr. Padmaja Reddy said.

DALLAS — While many North Texas families prepare for time off around the holidays, healthcare workers are dealing with the physical and emotional toll of rising COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Across the state hospitalizations are nearing record levels, including Parkland in Dallas, where doctors and nurses treated 145 COVID-19 patients on Wednesday.

“It feels like a warzone," said Dr. Padmaja Reddy. "There are so many patients and as soon as you move on from one sick patient who has been stabilized there’s the next one who is crashing."

Reddy has been helping COVID-19 patients in the Parkland ICU since the pandemic first reached Texas last spring.

“I think that it’s some mixture of fatigue and grief and fear still," Reddy said.

Watching patients isolated in their final moments is the hardest, but what keeps Reddy going are those working by her side and the patients they’ve saved.

“There’s a lot of people that have gotten through this and are going to live full and meaningful lives," Reddy said. "I go back to those every single time I have a hard day."

However, unless the hospitalizations and case numbers reverse their trend, the hard days will get even harder.

“I think it’s about more than the number of beds and the capacity in terms of space," Reddy said. "What we really struggle with on a day-to-day basis is finding enough nurses, finding enough RTs, finding enough doctors. That is honestly at every step of this going to be the limiting factor."

With Christmas and New Year's Eve right around the corner, Dr. Reddy has a message for families across north Texas:

“I get it. I miss my family too. I wish that I could bring all of Dallas into the ICU just to spend five minutes at the bedside just to see what this looks like. Anybody who can stay home, please stay home. If you can wear a mask, please wear a mask. It’s such a small thing and now that the vaccine is here, we have hope but we all have to do the right thing in the meantime because it’s going to be a really rough couple of months."