Local hospitals strained, nurses experiencing COVID burnout

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico hospitals are still strained due to the pandemic.

"They haven’t gotten better, I think it’s harder than it ever was before," said Michelle Silva, who has been a registered nurse for 10 years. She works in the ICU at the UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center – a smaller hospital with 59 inpatient beds.

After nearly two years of working full-time at a hospital during the pandemic, Silva is moving to part-time instead.

"It’s awful, it’s absolutely awful watching someone who is younger than you struggling to breathe," Silva said. "And knowing that they’re never going to see their kids again, and their kids and my kids are the same age, you know?"

The Sandoval Regional Medical Center recently had 25% to 30% of their beds filled with COVID-19 patients. Silva said the COVID-19 patients that end up in the ICU typically don’t recover.

"Quite often they are hateful and they are mean while we’re trying to save their lives," Silva said.

Silva said many nurses are now looking for other professions.

"I would have never guessed that people my age would be dying the way they are," she said. "Now our patients are 30s, 30s, 40s and they haven’t lived their lives. And more often than not, they’ve been victims of misinformation."

On Thursday, the state’s health department reported 12 recent COVID-19 deaths and half of them were in their 50s or younger. Health care workers said it is likely that could have been prevented if they would have gotten vaccinated.

"I thought we all believed in science for the most part as a human race, and we don’t," Silva said.