Travel nurses begin to assist local hospitals amid latest COVID surge

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Travel nurses and medical workers from other areas called upon to help ease a worker shortage at local hospitals are starting to take on shifts.

"Given the staff that has been working so hard, a little bit of a breather and give them a break so they don't have to work massive overtime," says Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra.

Doctors say the latest surge due to the Delta variant has Valley hospitals over capacity, putting even more of a strain on front-line workers.

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"We are increasingly frustrated and burned out because now, the pandemic, we believe, is very preventable," says Dr. Ajit Rai.

Dr. Rai works as an ICU critical care doctor in local hospitals. He says more people just need to get vaccinated.

"I think health literacy is a problem," he said. "That is a big part of why we're seeing the numbers we're seeing."
A Fresno man who was opposed to the vaccine got sick and infected friends and family. The experience changed his stance and he wanted to share his story with health officials.

"I just didn't do enough research, medical research and I just listened to people, friends, social media, something that was made up," says Bobby Marina.

Dr. Rai says 99% of the patients he has placed on life support in the last month and a half were not vaccinated.

"It's frustrating and sobering to hear my patients, as I'm about to put them on life support, they beg for the vaccine in that 11th hour," he said.
Dr. Rai says moments like those lead to mental burnout for workers. But it's important they stay strong because he says the surge will only worsen.

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"We are on the edge of our seats, bracing for what's about to come in the month of September because of schools reopening," he said.

State data indicates the COVID numbers will continue to rise.
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