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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

San Diego hospitals brace for what's to come with COVID-19 case spike

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase, our local hospital workers are getting prepared in the event San Diego will see a rise in hospitalizations.

SAN DIEGO — Our medical workers have been the unsung heroes of the pandemic. Now, with an increase in cases, the concern is how will hospitals be impacted and how are they preparing.

“The total hospitalizations in San Diego were just above 200, and yesterday we were at 304, so we've gone up dramatically just in the last few weeks, and we're watching it very carefully,” said Chris Van Gorder, President, CEO, Scripps Health.

Hospitalizations across the country are up about 25% but San Diego ICU's are 74% full with only 20% COVID patients.

“While the numbers are on the upswing, and that's certainly concerning, we're nowhere near a chaos situation or running out of hospital beds,” said Dr. Christopher Longhurst, Chief Information Officer and Associate Chief Medical Officer of Quality and Patient Safety at UC San Diego Health.

But doctors and nurses are definitely feeling the strain.

"I think what we're seeing it across our entire community is pandemic fatigue, hospital employees and even some in the ambulatory environment are tired, it's been a long six or seven months,” Van Gorder said.

Medical staff is used to wearing masks now all the time for intensely long hours.

"We are really cautious about our breakrooms because those are places where people unmask to you know have meals together,” said Dr. Longhurst.

Van Gorder says medical-worker fatigue has grown so much that they have had some employees off work attend family parties and a hospital outbreak occurred after someone went to a pumpkin carving.

"We're seeing that fatigue and reminding our employees to strictly follow our protocols,” Van Gorder said.

Scripps Health has increased their resources to help medical staff with counseling, use additional benefits, and take part in more staff calls.

“It is hard it is hard for our employees to be the family members for a COVID patient and any patient in the hospital who couldn’t have loved ones with them,” Van Gorder said.

Even after a vaccine is in use, medical experts say the pandemic is far from over.

"Most of us will probably be wearing masks most of next year and that we will probably get back to what we used to call normal probably in early 2022 that is the projection,” Van Gorder said.

The concern now is over a potential spike after Thanksgiving.

"Nobody wants to infect grandma or any other family member, but it's going to happen if people get together in unmasked settings for large gatherings,” said Dr. Longhurst.

Starting Monday, UCSD Health will roll out an app-based tool to all its patients and anybody who get tested at UCSD called California Covid Notify.

“It's a way of knowing if you've come into contact with somebody who also has this smartphone application and has tested positive, it’s completely anonymous and private, and we’re hoping that the State of California will roll this out across the state soon.”

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