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'The system is overwhelmed' | Houston nurses say they're short-staffed and worn out

“Two years ago ... we were being heralded as heroes ... now, we’re just still going,” said the leader of the Houston Emergency Nurses Association.

HOUSTON — Two years and four waves into the pandemic, health care workers are exhausted.

Especially since the omicron variant pushed COVID cases higher than ever before.

RELATED: 'We’re about to catch on fire': Inside a Woodlands hospital COVID unit with exhausted, burned-out nurses

While COVID-19 cases are finally starting to go down, more than 400 people with the virus are still being admitted to Houston hospitals each day.

The nurses who treat them say they're worn out.

“Two years ago ... we were being heralded as heroes. People were out banging pots and loving on nurses. Now, we’re just still going,” said Kevin McFarlane with the Houston Emergency Nurses Association.

McFarlane said many nurses in Houston are leaving hospitals for lower-stress jobs or higher-paying jobs as travel nurses.

Those who are left behind are stretched thin and burned out.

Hundreds of crisis nurses were deployed to Houston last week to help with the surge in COVID patients.

RELATED: Hundreds more nurses coming to Houston to relieve hospitals strained by COVID surge

“The system is overwhelmed. We’re seeing a lot of patients. Not only are we on the front lines taking care of people in the beds in front of us, but we’re also back home taking care of our family members are well,” McFarlane said.

He said nurses need help getting through this wave.

McFarlane urges more people to get vaccinated and take steps to avoid getting the virus in the first place, like wearing masks and social distancing.

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