As COVID cases continue to surge in Massachusetts, many hospitals and urgent care clinics are at full capacity.
With new cases every day, there's been an influx of patients at these facilities, but the shortage of medical staff workers still continues, leaving these facilities stressed and overworked.
Several patients who have delayed their treatment by not visiting a doctor through the pandemic are turning to urgent care clinics as there are longer wait times for primary care physicians. But at the clinics, patients are finding longer wait times as well.
"I really wonder where these patients were," said Katie Murphy, ICU nurse and president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. "And now, you know, now they're feeling like they can, if they're sick enough, they have to go to the emergency room, they have to go to urgent care. And so we're being asked to do more with less."
According to the nurses association, fatigue is pushing more medical staff to retire, so some medical associations are hoping to reward their medical workers to overcome the stress.
UMass Memorial, for example, is giving out thank you bonuses.
According to Mass Live, the caregivers will receive $125 to $500, depending on their employment status, with full-time employees receiving up to $500. This isn't new for the hospital, as it gave out bonuses last year as well.
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UMass Memorial, located in Worcester, went into an elevated status this week with increasing COVID cases coming in -- especially due to the strike at St. Vincent Hospital across town.
In less than a week, COVID cases have jumped from 34 to 54 at UMass Memorial.
There has been a shortage of emergency beds and increased wait times at the hospital. Because of a nationwide labor shortage, the hospital said there are more than 400 vacant positions.
Hospitals and staff across the country are also struggling to deal with the pandemic, the stress of the situation and being overwhelmed with patients.