Powell travel nurse shares firsthand experience with second COVID-19 surge

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE)– Knox County vaccination rates remain below the national average, and case counts are still going up.

One traveling nurse is seeing these trends first hand not only in Tennessee but in Florida as well. Lisa Zinser lives in Powell but works at a hospital in South Florida.

“I came to Miami as a traveling nurse five years ago and I have a house in Powell,” she said. “I just like this hospital and the money was a lot better than in East Tennessee so I took a full-time position.”

She took a week off of work to spend time with family and when she went back, her hospital was full of COVID-19 patients.

She said in a week’s her hospital went from having 28 COVID-19 patients in their building to having 104,

“I’m a surgery nurse and we’ve canceled all elective surgeries. Basically, we can’t accommodate any other patients coming in for outpatient or elective surgeries because we don’t have any bed to put them in.”

Zinser said she’s seeing the second surge of the pandemic,

“All of our non-COVID units are now COVID units. We now have patients in an auditorium now that are getting IV medications for COVID.”

She adds, “we have 38 patients right now in our emergency room waiting on beds in our hospital, even people on vents.”

They’re seeing so many COVID patients that they’re having to turn people away.

“Now that we are at full capacity we have diverted our ambulances to other hospitals because we can’t take any more. we can’t take any more at all.”

Zinzer is worried that what she’s seeing in South Florida may happen here in Knox County next,

“It’s coming and they should really consider getting their immunizations now before there is a rush at the last minute.”

Forty-seven percent of Knox County residents are fully vaccinated according to the Knox County Health Department. That’s just below the national average of 49.4 percent.

“It’s the real deal and it’s overwhelming to the health care system,” said Zinser.

More than 14 hundred people are currently in the hospital in Knox County.

Zinser said, “I don’t want people to think that ‘oh I’m healthy, I don’t have to worry,’ because there are lots of young people who had that same attitude and they’re all in this hospital all around me.”

She said in two weeks her hospital COVID-19 numbers have gone up 159%.

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