Omaha-area rural hospitals struggle to keep up with COVID-19 surge

Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 9:53 PM CST
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BLAIR, Neb. (WOWT) - COVID-19 is continuing to cause chaos in communities -- overwhelmed hospitals are becoming a problem far beyond the Omaha Metro area.

The trick-down effect is crippling rural medical facilities.

There’s a lot these nurses can do to save lives at Memorial Community Hospital.

But there is also a limit.

“We always had that in our back pocket, that Omaha is 30 minutes away,” said Nurse Kaela Roy.

Just an ambulance or airlift away from an ICU. A critical option that is quickly slipping away as big-city hospitals near capacity.

“Not being able to readily transfer has been very scary,” Roy said.

The situation is stretching the health care workers thin.

“There are quite a few things we can get started. We can perform the intubation, but the ventilation and continuous sedation, that’s meant for ICU-level care,” Roy said. “In some instances, we’ve had to go to Lincoln, and we’ve had one patient go to Grand Island.”

And when no bed is found, it all falls right back on these nurses.

“The fact that we may not be able to get a bed at an Omaha hospital for hours is very nervewracking,” Roy said.

Also nerve-wracking is the thought of more to come. Roy said she is scared of the upcoming holiday.

“About two weeks after each holiday is when the spikes -- we see more spikes. So I’m nervous. Very nervous,” she said.

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