NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Hospital beds are filling up again, but this time with patients who passed on a vaccine.
At Vanderbilt University Medical Center, more than 90-percent of the COVID-19 patients in the medical intensive care unit are unvaccinated.
"You think, 'well it's not going to happen to me,' but every single person that I take care of in the ICU said I thought it wasn't going to happen to me," said Dr. Todd Rice, director of the medical ICU.
The influx in patients is putting a strain on hospital resources.
"We have a strain in our nursing capacity, and what happens is as COVID goes through our community our nurses get COVID. There are a lot of strains on our system. People think about beds, but it's beds, ventilators, dialysis machines, nurses, people like our nurse practitioners who are our primary front-line caretakers for patients, etc.," Dr. Rice said.
Because of the situation, burnout is setting in. According to Dr. Rice, some on his staff are exasperated with the patients who originally refused a vaccine.
"I know it's been a struggle for a lot of the providers to just have those feelings of I want to care for you the best I can, but there were ways you could have avoided being here," Dr. Rice said.
Dr. Rice predicts in the next two years there will be an exodus of hospital staff.
"We're starting to see that erosion of the staff, but we're going to see a lot more of it in the next year or two [when] people take a breath and assess what they're doing in their lives, and they're going to say this isn't for me anymore," Dr. Rice said.
Until then, they will continue to educate those who originally turned down a vaccine.
"I think we are hoping that we can find 'ins' to people who are still hesitant, to help them understand that this is a better option than getting COVID. It's the way to protect yourself from this awful disease," Dr. Rice said.
Even when an ICU patient survives COVID their recovery will likely take months and chances are they will never feel 100-percent again, according to the doctor.