COVID-19 hospitalizations are increasing across Connecticut as the delta variant continues to spread. Tuesday there were 17 more patients in the hospital battling the virus.
Nurses at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London are seeing the effects firsthand.
"To say that we are tired and burned out is an understatement," said Mei Lin, a registered nurse working in the intensive care unit at L&M.
In the beginning of summer, the team at L&M enjoyed a break from treating COVID-19 patients. As recently as July 19, they were treating zero COVID-19 patients in the hospital.
Get Connecticut local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Connecticut newsletters.
However, the break was short-lived. They started this week with 10 COVID-19 patients in the hospital.
"Just the overall morale going down with staff because COVID is back and we know what comes with it," said Jaclyn Jones, who has worked on the COVID-19 unit at the hospital since the pandemic began. "Caused us to have a little bit of PTSD and that’s the honest truth. We have watched coworkers pass away, family members pass away or struggle through it. That constant fear and anxiety of what is to come. It is tiring and it is tough.”
According to Dr. Kevin Torres, associate chief medical officer at L&M Hospital, the majority of the COVID-19 patients who they are treating are unvaccinated. The patients range in age from 30-50 years.
"If the vaccine could have prevented them having to come in or be admitted or get it, or have worsening symptoms, it is unfortunate," said Torres. "The vaccine is widely available."
The nurse manager for the ICU, Zainab Cole, said it has been disappointing to see an uptick in COVID-19 patients.
“Disappointing because we have all the preventative measures there to take the vaccine," said Cole.
The team of nurses hopes if people are still deciding whether or not they will get the vaccine, that they will think of what goes on inside the hospital and the toll a COVID-19 case can take on nurses, patients and families.
“I think it is really important people realize not only do you get vaccinated for yourself, but also for your loved ones because to see families not being able to visit their family members and not being able to spend time with them during their last moments is quite heart-breaking," said Lin.
They urge people to continue to wear masks inside, avoid large gatherings, and get vaccinated.
L&M is offering the COVID vaccine in their emergency department.