The Chief Medical Officer for Yale New Haven’s Lawrence & Memorial and Westerly Hospitals said today that he is “hopeful” the latest COVID wave passes by March.

Dr. Oliver Mayorga, appearing on WBLQ radio’s Morning Show with Frank Prosnitz, spoke about a wide range of COVID related issues, including hospital staff shortages, any anticipated future variants, and what to expect once the Omicron variant passes. 

“It’s extraordinarily contagious…I don’t think we’ll be COVID free in the near future, but hopefully by March this wave should pass, he said.”

While Omicron is “less virulent” than previous strains, “there’s still a population that gets very sick,” he said, particularly those who are unvaccinated.

Vaccinations, he said, have successfully reduced hospitalizations and deaths among those vaccinated, while the bulk of serious cases are among the unvaccinated

Meanwhile, hospitals are facing a shortage of medical workers, primarily nurses, Dr. Mayorga said.

“We work very hard to address burnout and fatigue,” which he said are the main reasons nurses are leaving the profession. 

While some hospitals nationwide have tried to fill shortages by allowing asymptomatic workers with COVID to return to work, it’s not something they’ve had to do at Yale New Haven.

Dr. Mayorga said the system lost only a “handful” of employees when it mandated vaccinations for all employees. According to reports, 94 Yale New Haven employees were terminated because they were unvaccinated, out of a workforce of more than 26,000.

Still, because of fatigue and burnout, Mayorga said the hospital system is facing a worker shortage, and has been recruiting nationwide for employees, offering incentives.

While Yale New Haven has not had to resort to calling back asymptomatic workers with COVID, several systems have, including two in Rhode Island – the state-run Eleanor Slater Hospital and the Respiratory Center of Rhode Island.

Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal. Prosnitz began his journalism career as a sportswriter at the Asbury Park (NJ) Press, moving to The News Tribune (Woodbridge, NJ), before joining the Providence Journal. Prosnitz hosts the Morning Show on WLBQ radio (Westerly), 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, and It’s Your Business, also on WBLQ, Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Prosnitz has twice won Best in Business Awards from the national Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), twice was named Media Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration, won an investigative reporter’s award from the New England Press Association, and newswriting award from the Rhode Island Press Association.