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Hundreds of Cone Health employees are sick with COVID-19

Hundreds of Cone Health employees are sick with COVID-19

(WGHP) — The chief operating officer of Cone Health said 400 workers were sick with COVID, including 100 nurses, on Thursday.

The number of people calling is approximately 6% of the total number of employees with the system.

“We’re definitely a closer team than before,” said Zoe Suggs, assistant director of nursing in the Intensive Care Unit at Wesley Long Hospital.

She explained the mental and emotional strain the latest wave is placing on teams as more nurses contract the virus.

“It can be a little scary because the staff might know a little bit more about what the disease looks like than the public, so I think it’s a little scary when they’re told they’re positive,” Suggs said.

She said a positive diagnosis can be difficult for nurses who have a team that counts on them.

“My husband actually had COVID pneumonia in the beginning, before the vaccines were introduced and I had to call for almost a week and a half, I knew my team needed me so it was kind of hard for me to get to the house,” Suggs explained.

A break in elective surgery frees up some staff to help elsewhere in the hospital. Travel nurses also continue to fill gaps.

“We’ve deployed some non-clinical staff, so nurses who have moved into education departments and things like that come back to the bedside to help our staff, which is phenomenal,” Suggs said.

In the ICU there is a comfort room for staff with dimmed lights, affirmative words and even a punching bag for stress.

dr. Mary Jo Cagle, CEO of Cone Health, reported a record 303 COVID-positive patients across the system on Thursday. That number dropped to 253, reported Friday.

“It’s getting harder every day to find good and healthy staff to take care of all these people,” said Dr. cagle.

Despite schedule shifts and strong demand, Suggs says one thing hasn’t changed.

“The people in this building, we’re all here because we want to be here, we want to take care of our patients and our community,” she said.

Cone has a network that monitors COVID-positive employees at least every other day and helps meet any needs.