By Caroline Vandergriff

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Hospitals in North Texas say they need hundreds of additional staff to deal with a surge of COVID-19 cases, but the state has denied their requests for emergency personnel.

“Staff is probably the most important resource we have in order to be able to do our jobs,” said Monee’ Carter-Griffin, an ICU nurse practitioner who works in several DFW hospitals.

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Right now, there are more than 1,800 COVID-19 patients in North Texas hospitals, which is more than four times the amount we had a month ago.

“As I look at the numbers going up each day, I’m like, please not another January or February,” Carter-Griffin said.

Hospital staff are already stretched thin, struggling to keep up with the influx.

“We’ve got a very fatigued workforce,” said Stephen Love, President/CEO of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council. “These frontline people, they are really heroes. They’ve been at this 18 or 19 months. Many of tired, many are leaving the profession.”

Through the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council, hospitals in the region have requested more than 600 medical surge staff from the Department of State Health Services, something the agency has been funding since the beginning of the pandemic.

However, the recent requests were denied, and the state encouraged hospitals to get the help through their cities and counties instead.

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“Local governments across Texas now have access to more than $10 billion in federal Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Funds that are available to pay for urgent COVID-19 response needs, including medical surge staffing,” said Chris Van Deusen, director of media relations for DSHS. “… As always, emergency response begins at the local level. Encouraging health care facilities to utilize the resources already available within their communities will ensure the response can be as flexible as possible. They can work with their cities and counties to ramp up or shift necessary staffing as needed throughout this phase of the pandemic. Most health care facilities have relationships with staffing firms, but we can help connect them with the firms we used, if needed.”

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says the federal funds the state wants them to use to bring in emergency hospital staff were already allocated for other COVID-19 relief programs.

The county is now working on a new plan but hopes the state reverses its decision.

“We’re going to make sure we do what’s necessary to keep you safe, but it sure would be a lot easier if we could get leadership and help from the state,” Judge Jenkins said.

Wherever the funding comes from, hospital workers say they need help now.

“We’re so exhausted, and I don’t think people recognize the emotional aspect that goes into being able to care for these patients,” Griffin-Carter said. “You want staff that are fresh, that are mentally healthy.”

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She says that’s one of the keys to getting North Texas through the latest surge in COVID-19 cases.

Caroline Vandergriff