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The toll of a third COVID-19 wave on Texas doctors, nurses

COVID-19 hospital admissions in Texas are up 47% in the last week and 142% since last month.

AUSTIN, Texas — Go to work, see patients, skip breaks, repeat. Since the pandemic hit, Dr. Linda Villarreal said that has been the life of many doctors. 

"I remember one day getting home sometime in early March or April, and I just kind of sat there, and then I realized that, for 12 months, I have been under a lot of stress, but didn't pay attention to it," Villarreal said.

As the president of the Texas Medical Association, she said the pandemic placed a heavy burden on medical professionals across the state. 

"That mental-emotional stress did carry quite a load on all the physicians who continued to work in the trenches," said Villarreal.

As the COVID-19 rollout began throughout the beginning of 2021, life began to return to normal, giving everyone hope that the worst was over. Yet cases are now surging again in Texas, mainly among the unvaccinated.

The number of COVID patients in Texas hospitals rose 47% in the last week and 142% in the last month, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). 

CEO of the Texas Nurses Association Cindy Zolnierek said nurses are also feeling this burden.

"We have a workforce that is very tired," said Zolnierek.

However, medical professionals believe it is still possible to ease the burden on hospitals before capacity is exceeded.

Their answer is the vaccine. 

Even if COVID-19 numbers continue to climb, this time around Villarreal believes doctors and nurses have the resources they need. Resources like PPO and mental health support help these medical professionals to take care of their emotional, mental and physical health.

"I do go home. I do sit on that rocking chair. I do take some deep breaths,"  said Zolnierek. 

As burnout has become common in the health field over the last year, she believes it is important for anyone in the health field to identify their health issues, whether it be physical or mental, and treat it if they have not already.

KVUE also asked Villarreal about her thoughts on some of the public not trusting science. 

"It is a concern for sure or disappointment definitely," she said. "You know, as physicians, we do what we do. I am who I am. I am a physician."


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