Hundreds of Nebraskans were unable to get medical care during the latest wave of COVID

He said Nebraska’s staffing crisis meant denying patients the essential care they needed during these, sometimes daily, surges.

“I have a voicemail on my cell phone a CEO from one of the critical access hospitals around us pleading with us to take a patient they had a patient who was really just tanking due to COVID , and they said they called 20 different facilities in three different states and I couldn’t get this patient anywhere,” Mitchell said.

“The patient ended up passing away because no one had the capacity to have the staff to take care of the patients.”

The hospital’s CEO said his system was making these impossible decisions almost every day during the omicron push, trying to save critically ill COVID-19 patients who might have had a chance of surviving with a higher level of care.

Great Plains Health had to turn away 233 patients wishing to be transferred to its hospital between December 2021 and February 2022 – the peak of the omicron push in Nebraska.

“I don’t know if the public really knows that. They hear about it, but I don’t think people really think about it until it affects someone they know, like a family member or a friend, who they’re trying to seek treatment for,” Mitchell said.

Across Lincoln State, Dawn Isaacs, director of nursing for Bryan Health, said misunderstanding can arise from how hospital capacity is reported and discussed.