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COVID surge stressing Connecticut health care providers to the max

Pandemic-related hospitalizations dropped Thursday for the first time in three weeks.

HARTFORD, Conn — This omicron surge is stressing Connecticut’s health care system to the max. Some hospitals are short on beds and all of them are short on staff.

FOX61 asked healthcare workers, what can we do to help them? They all said the same thing. Get vaccinated, get boosted, and if you get COVID, don’t run to the hospital if you can manage your symptoms at home.

Nearly 2,000 people across Connecticut are currently hospitalized with COVID.

“Every day is a new challenge,” explained Dr. Jared Kohlhepp of Bristol Hospital.

Here at Bristol Hospital, 84% of their beds are taken, including 50% of the ICU beds.

Have they run out before?

“Yes. We have,” said Kohlhepp. But no one is ever turned away.

RELATED: COVID-19 at-home tests still in high demand across Connecticut

“We don’t have the ability to turn people away,” he said. “If someone is seeking care we will see them every single time. Patient safety is the top priority regardless of volume.”

The same is true over at Trinity Health of New England where not only has no one been turned away, but they are taking COVID patients from other states as far away as Florida.

“To get treatment modalities that they haven’t been able to get in other states,” explained Dr. Syed Hussain, the Chief Clinical Officer at Trinity Health of New England.

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Trinity has developed a four-tier surge plan to address capacity.

“We have the abilitym" Hussain added "If we have to go toward level 4 to convert non-clinical spaces into clinical care areas and by that, I mean auditoriums and large conference rooms.”

We all remember the field hospitals that were set up during the onset of the pandemic. Are they needed now?

The Governor's office and Department of Public Health said in a statement, “There are currently no plans to utilize our National Guard to establish additional hospital capacity.”

This comes as President Biden surges military medical staff to six struggling states, including our neighbors in Rhode Island.

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“I just got out of the hospital a couple of days ago for a non-COVID-related purpose and we had no trouble getting a bed at the emergency room,” explained Lewis Goldfarb of Cheshire.

There is some good news. Doctors told FOX61 that though they are dealing with severe staffing shortages, it’s gotten better over the last two weeks. However, morale is still very low.

“It’s a challenge. I’m not going to lie to you. Our nursing staff are some of the strongest individuals I’ve ever met in my life and I’ve seen several of them in tears when the volume was at its highest. And we are there for each other,” remarked Dr. Kohlhepp.

Matt Caron is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at mcaron@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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