File Photo – Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington | Photo: Google Street View

The state has deployed contract healthcare workers to multiple hospitals in Lake County to help with staffing shortages and an influx of COVID-19 patients.

Last week, Gov JB Pritzker announced he was deploying more than 2,000 health care workers to hospitals in Illinois to deal with record COVID-19 hospitalizations, which he called “unprecedented.”

Additional personnel, on top of the state-contracted workers, are also available to individual hospitals that apply for federal assistance.

Melaney Arnold, the Public Information Officer for the Illinois Department of Public Health, confirmed that at least three hospitals in Lake County were receiving staff from the state.

Those hospitals include Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Northwestern Medicine Hospital in Lake Forest and Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan.

Arnold said the staffing assistance was sent due to a combination of staffing issues and a large number of patients filling beds at those hospitals.

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A spokesperson for Advocate Aurora Health told Lake and McHenry County Scanner that the current surge in COVID-19 cases has resulted in inpatient census being “very high.”

In addition to state-contract workers being sent to Advocate Condell, the spokesperson confirmed that Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington is also receiving state-supported staff.

“At times bed availability may be limited, and the situation is complicated by the workforce shortage impacting many industries across the nation,” Advocate Aurora Health said in a statement.

“We have taken advantage of the additional staffing resources offered by the State of Illinois on a limited basis. We are monitoring the situation constantly and despite the challenges, our commitment to providing safe, quality care remains absolute,” the statement added.

None of the hospitals in Lake County have requested federal support yet.

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Earlier this month, Lake and McHenry County Scanner reported that hospitals in Lake County were routinely going on partial or full bypass as they dealt with staffing shortages and the COVID-19 surge.

Bypass is when hospitals are unable to accept any additional patients and tell ambulances to transport new patients to other hospitals.

When a hospital is on bypass, people who show up on their own — not in ambulances — are not allowed to be turned away.

One source told Lake and McHenry County Scanner in early January that Advocate Condell’s emergency room waiting area was “packed” as it dealt with the latest COVID surge.

Some people have had to wait several hours to be seen at peak times when dozens of people are in the waiting room, the source said.

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Now that the hospitals are receiving additional health care workers on a temporary basis, the hospitals are not allowed to go “bypass” and turn away ambulances transporting patients, the source said.