Local health care workers believe worst is yet to come with COVID-19

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Amanda Putnam has been working as a Kaweah Delta ER nurse for the last five months.

The pandemic has been tough and overwhelming at times, but Putnam believes the worst is yet to come.

"When I first started we saw COVID patients, but nothing like what we are seeing now," she said.

With the holidays behind us, health officials anticipate a surge in the next week or two.

As of Sunday, 165 COVID-positive patients were already being treated at the hospital.

Hospital officials say that's one of the highest intakes they've had to date and it's only expected to increase.

"We are going to have to prepare for it, making tough decisions on how we triage our patients and the care that we give to them," said Putnam.

To make matters worse, the medical center is facing significant staffing shortages.

Last week, they had 200 employees who were out with the coronavirus or quarantining after coming in contact with someone who tested positive.

On New Year's Eve alone, they had 90 patients in their emergency room. Fifty of them had no choice but to wait for assistance.

"New Year's Eve we had five stabbing victims, gunshot wounds, we just have a lot," said Putnam. "On top of that, we have the COVID patients that are coming in."

Kaweah Delta officials are now preparing for the impending surge.

They are currently expanding bed availability and cutting back on elective surgeries to free more space.

Putnam says there's now a spark of optimism among the chaos created by the pandemic.

So far, 50% of Kaweah Delta staff have received their first dose of the vaccine.

Travel nurses are also on their way to provide some much-needed support.
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