OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As Oklahoma hospitals continue to grapple with the impact of rising COVID-19 cases, nurses are on the front lines of the pandemic.
Jill McSparrin, an ICU nurse with INTEGRIS, says nurses are exhausted, depressed, and anxious as they continue to see a growing number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients who are unvaccinated.
“We’re really questioning whether we can do another season of this,” McSparrin said.
As Delta is the primary variant behind the rise in cases, doctors are seeing younger patients who are struggling to breathe.
“It’s very hard to watch the patients suffer and die. Every day we work, we see someone die,” she said.
McSparrin says most patients will die without their families by their side. Instead, it will be a nurse holding their hand as they take their last breath.
“It takes a toll on you,” she said.
On Tuesday, the Oklahoma State Department of Health announced that more than 9,000 Oklahomans have lost their lives to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Medical experts say there were 1,497 Oklahomans hospitalized with COVID-19 on average over the past three days. Authorities also noted that there were 64 pediatric hospitalizations for COVID-19 included in that number.
McSparrin says that many nurses are thinking of retiring early because they are so exhausted.
“I want Oklahomans to know that if they saw what we see every day, they would be in line to get the vaccine,” she said.
With the way the virus is spreading, she says she fears there will not be enough beds or nurses to take care of everyone who needs to be hospitalized.
Doctors say the best way you can minimize your risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 is getting vaccinated.
Dr. Mary Clarke, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, says the data proves that the vaccine is working in the Sooner State.
As of Monday, Dr. Clarke says the hospitalization rate for vaccinated Oklahomans is 16 for every 100,000 residents.
If you are unvaccinated, the rate is 1,160 per 100,000 residents.
When looking at the death rate, Dr. Clarke says only two vaccinated patients out of 100,000 Oklahomans will die from COVID-19, compared to 158 unvaccinated patients for every 100,000 Oklahomans.
“It is absolutely obvious that the unvaccinated people are the ones who are hospitalized and dying,” said Dr. Clarke.
Clarke says they have seen breakthrough infections of people who are fully vaccinated, but she stresses that those people are not becoming seriously ill.
“Having a breakthrough infection is not a reason to not get the vaccine,” she said.
Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU Chief COVID Officer, says that one of the most concerning things about the spread of the Delta variant is that some of the symptoms can be easily mistaken for another condition.
He warns that common symptoms of Delta include a sore throat, runny nose, fever, and headaches. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, and GI symptoms.