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US hospitals desperately hunting for medical staff

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More than a dozen states face severe shortages of personnel, US Department of Health and Human Services data show. In Texas and Hawaii, hospitals are building tents for extra space. In Florida, the federal government has deployed hundreds of ventilators to Florida in a rare tapping of the Strategic National Stockpile for that equipment.

The scramble comes as hospitals in hard-hit states say they’re reaching surge capacity, canceling elective procedures again and turning away transfer patients, a jolting warning for parts of the country where cases are just beginning to rise again.

“What we’re running short of most critically is staffing,” said Hilton Raethel, chief executive officer of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, which just contracted for 550 new hospital workers — mostly nurses — at a cost of $46 million for eight weeks. Mississippi could see “failure of the hospital system” within 10 days, Alan Jones, a top official with the University of Mississippi Medical Center, said Wednesday.

Hospitals in the US have admitted an average of 9,700 patients over the past seven days, an increase of 31% from the prior week, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said during a news briefing Thursday. Those numbers are all the more challenging because hospitals are now contending with a major rush of Covid-19 patients alongside non-Covid traffic that had been returning to normal levels. In many states, commerce and tourism have also staged a comeback, meaning those looking to bring in outside staff will have to compete with leisure travelers for the price of rooms and other transportation.- THE HINDUSTAN TIMES

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