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Florida nurse on state’s rising coronavirus cases: ‘Sometimes just feels like you can’t win’

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Tampa Bay area nurse spoke with 8 On Your Side to reveal the new challenges of the job as coronavirus cases skyrocket in Florida.

“I work for a large hospital system,” nurse Colleen Folsch said. “Just the increasing number of cases sometimes just feels like you can’t win.”

8 On Your Side is not identifying where Folsch works. The palliative care specialist wants to be candid about the situation in her facility and others in the Bay area.

Folsch says she’s seen a dramatic rise in the number of critical COVID-19 patients.

8 On Your Side checked state records and found her hospital had zero adult intensive care unit beds available on Monday afternoon.

As her facility gets maxed out, Folsch says some staff members are starting to get burned out.

“Unfortunately, because the patient load keeps going up and becoming more critical, the staffing needs are often not meeting those needs,” she said. “I don’t think anyone is strictly to blame for that, I think it’s just an ever-evolving and increasing situation.”

“Our ICUs and many of our floors have had to be converted to COVID rooms which means that our regular critically sick patients…we’ve had to find spaces for those patients to go,” she added.

Investigative Reporter Mahsa Saeidi asked if, based on what the nurse is seeing on the ground, the situation is accelerating.

Folsch said it’s hard to tell because the virus is unpredictable.

“I think all of us are concerned about that quote unquote second wave that might hit in the winter months because we’re not anywhere near through the first wave yet,” said Folsch.

Some good news: According to Folsch, her facility has enough personal protective equipment.

But, she says, some health care workers feel a lack of support in the state.

“‘It’s okay, you don’t need to wear masks, we advise it but it’s not mandated,’ that kind of thing is very frustrating to us,” she said.

As of Monday, there’s still no statewide mandate for masks in Florida.

“My fabulous physicians in the ICU trying hard to keep people off ventilators as much as possible,” said Folsch.

If you have a tip or story idea, email investigator Mahsa Saeidi at MSaeidi@WFLA.com

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