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'We are now past the high point': ICU nurse in Greeley discusses surge, staff shortages

“So we are now past the high point from our spring surge which is terrifying to us," said Jen Lengel, a critical care nurse at North Colorado Medical Center.

GREELEY, Colo. — On the outside of North Colorado Medical Center, the signs thanking heroes are a reminder that what happened in the spring is happening again. But this time, it's worse.

"So we are now past the high point from our spring surge which is terrifying to us," said Jen Lengel, a critical care nurse at the Greeley hospital.

On Tuesday, she was in charge of the ICU, the COVID-19 ICU, and the burn unit.

Over the weekend, her hospital began putting two COVID-19 patients in every room, and assigned three ICU patients to every nurse – it's usually two per nurse.

“You are spread thinner to take care of three really sick patients and that is really what wears these nurses out," said Lengel.

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Although parts of this surge feel like deja vu, Lengel said there are more patients and they seem sicker.

“Just that process of when a patient is spiraling down the hill and you have to help them be on the phone with their families to say goodbye, it's just, takes a piece of you," said Lengel, tearing up.

She wishes people could see what she sees to understand how much people are hurting, and how wearing a mask can help take the burden off her staff.

“It is a simple sacrifice to protect these patients from having to go through this," she said. "To protect us from having to bear a greater load than we need to.”

RELATED: Weld County commissioners say they won't enforce newest COVID-19 restrictions

After speaking with 9NEWS Tuesday morning, Lengel planned to find new beds for more COVID-19 patients coming in.

She'll work Wednesday, too. And the day after that.

“Yeah it was hard because I’m not supposed to work Thanksgiving," she said. "And I called all my family and I said 'hey, just to let you know I think the need is going to be greater here.'"

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