A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows most healthcare workers hospitalized with coronavirus are nurses, and the vast majority of them had underlying health conditions.
The study collected data from 13 sites across the country from March 1 to May 31 and examined medical records for about 6,700 patients. The study found that nearly 6% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 were healthcare workers. Among that group, more than 36% were nurses.
“I figured it would be large,” said Johnson Memorial Health President and CEO Dr. David Dunkle. “Maybe not 36%, but it makes sense because, again, nurses unfortunately don’t get to work from home. They’re on the frontlines.”
Among the healthcare workers who required hospital treatment for COVID-19, the study found 89% of them had one or more underlying health conditions. The most common health conditions were obesity at 73%, hypertension at 41% and diabetes at 31%.
Dunkle said the findings should be a sobering reminder to everyone, not just health care workers, about the need to maintain the healthiest lifestyle possible.
“Unfortunately, this disease has disproportionately picked on people with those underlying conditions,” Dunkle said. “You do have to watch your weight. You have to stay healthy. If you are diabetic, control that diabetes. If you’re hypertensive, take your medicine.”
“Anybody who has underlying health conditions, this disease really affects them badly,” said William Mink, RN.
Mink serves as Johnson Memorial Health’s quality manager and patient safety officer. He says the study also reinforces the need for even the healthiest Hoosiers to take precautions against catching and spreading the virus.
“Even if you’re healthy, well you might pass it on to somebody who’s not so healthy,” Mink said. “You might have other people in your family who have those underlying health conditions, so you need to watch out for them too.”
Mink said Johnson Memorial has not had any employees who required hospitalization for COVID-19. However, the hospital has had employees get infected. Officials believe the employees contracted the virus outside the hospital.
“One of the things that we’ve done here in the hospital is we’ve empowered all of our employees to say ‘Put your mask on. Protect me as well as yourself,’” Mink said. “And I would encourage the public to do that as well.”
“All of us need to think about weight loss, and how do you do that? It’s healthy diet, it’s exercise,” Dunkle said. “And again, I can’t stress the importance enough of seeing your physician if you have one. Don’t put off healthcare during this time.”