CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Since the start of the pandemic, nurses and healthcare workers have been overwhelmed with the number of sick patients. This is causing many nurses to quit and find other jobs.

For a little while, COVID-19 numbers were on the decline and hospitals got a break, but now with the surging COVID-19 delta variant, nurses are having déjà vu from the start of the pandemic.

“Our hospitalizations right now are at capacity. I’ve talked to several hospitals in the area and every single one, even the small ones,” Joyce Wilson, President of the West Virginia Nurses Association said.

Hospitals even have ICU patients waiting to get a bed – very few of which are available in the state. Other patients are just waiting in the emergency room.

“Right now, there’s a nursing shortage anyway and the nurses that are there are overwhelmed and worn out. So, some nurses are choosing to change careers. Like instead of being a nurse in a hospital, they want to be a nurse maybe in a clinic,” Wilson says.

Some hospitals are starting to mandate that everyone get a COVID-19 vaccine. However, the West Virginia Nurses Association is not in support of mandating the vaccine since it might force more nurses and healthcare workers to quit. They need as many nurses by the bedside.

“Hospitals are on the verge of collapse. The health care system, and it’s not just nurses, it’s respiratory therapists, it’s nurses’ aides. There are places you’re taking care of 30 patients and you’re doing the best you can, but that’s too much for one person to do,” Wilson said.

The West Virginia Nurses Association has been working on some new legislation to make hospital environments safer for nurses.