Topeka (KSNT) – Staffing shortages are affecting care, and right now hospitals are desperate to retain the staff that is necessary to take care of a surging population of unvaccinated hospitalizations that are crippling Kansas health care.

In a meeting of 18 chief medical officers and infectious disease doctors Wednesday morning on Zoom, the group was not shy about communicating frustration over what is being called nurse poaching from other states and the inevitable necessity for an “emergency declaration” from the governor.

The governor responded to the calls for something to be done with a statement from a spokesperson:

“As COVID-19 cases have increased, Governor Kelly has closely assessed hospital capacity across Kansas. She and her staff have been in regular communication with health care leaders to determine actions the state can take to alleviate the issues at our hospitals stemming from the latest COVID-19 surge. The Governor is reviewing both short-term measures that can be implemented, as well as longer-term solutions that will require partnership with the legislature,” a spokesperson for the governor told KSNT.

HCA Midwest Health’s Chief Medical Officer Kimberly Megow is concerned that “emergency rooms are gridlocked and the numbers are growing vertically.”

“The sickest, by and large, are unvaccinated,” Megow said. “We are seeing the highest number of COVID patients but also staffing shortages.”

Several of the doctors during the Zoom conference said an emergency declaration may be needed to get hospitals through the pandemic and the staffing shortages.

“We are going to run out of Greek alphabet numbers before we run out of COVID,” James Alexander, Chief Medical Officer/Regional Medical Director for Centura told the group.