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Doctors, nurses brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge; fears of more burnouts loom after 2 years of pandemic rollercoaster

Doctors say with the delta and omicron variants spreading rapidly, another surge could come as soon as next week.

CLEVELAND — Doctors, nurses, and hospital staff on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic say they’re bracing for another wave of cases following the holidays, all this while they desperately battle burnout among themselves.

There are also looming concerns among professionals in the medical field.

“So, we absolutely expect to see a post-holiday surge, much like we did last year and after Thanksgiving,” says Dr. Amy Edwards, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at University Hospitals.

After days of record-breaking COVID-19 case numbers in Ohio, Northeast Ohio hospitals and clinics are bracing for impact again.

“You know, three days after Christmas, here comes the next wave,” says Mindy Siler, an emergency department nurse with University Hospitals.

More testing coming in Summit county with the help of facilitated the Ohio National Guard and area hospitals after the highly contagious omicron variant spreads rapidly. Over 20,000 new cases were reported Sunday in Ohio.

“We are dreading January with every fiber of our being. We talk about it at work all the time,” Edwards said.

Doctors and staff laying it out for 3News like they have been for nearly two years, telling us they’re just tired.

“For two years we’ve been begging people to take care so as not to burn us out,” Edwards said.

Siler, who leads a group of nurses, says she knew she wanted to be a nurse at a young age.

“This is, this is nursing,” she said.

Siler spent her Christmas Holiday working in what she now only knows as “normal” circumstances.

“People who are on the outside, they really don’t understand,” Siler said. “The patients are coming in and they’re having a higher level of care that’s needed. The workforce shortage is kind of complicating the problem of COVID.”

One of the largest concerns that comes with another surge in cases is not just staffing -- or lack thereof -- but that very issue becoming more common, according to Edwards.

“We expect this surge to kind of stretch things to their limit, hopefully not past them,” Edwards said. “This wave I worry will lead to another wave of retirements and resignations.”

Nurses like Siler, who strive to set an example, just want people to realize it takes a team -- a team that is hanging on by a thread.

“There are seasons of difficulty and this won’t be the last,” Siler said. “It’s not just the nurses. It’s our housekeepers, it’s out dietary. Everybody is suffering because when one person is out that means somebody else has to step up.”

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