As winter approaches, hospitals nationwide are preparing for – or already handling – a surge of sick patients. With the cold weather keeping people indoors, viruses and air-borne diseases are spreading rapidly, leading to the spread of a trio of respiratory illnesses. How are hospitals going to deal with this?

NPR’s Ari Shapiro sat down with travel nurse Grover Nicodemus Street to talk about the impact of COVID-19, the flu, and a respiratory disease called RSV. Shapiro and NPR have been checking in with Street since early last year, and they sat down recently to check in on him and the state of hospitals.

Currently stationed in Northern California, Street begins the interview by addressing why he hasn’t yet retired – referring to Shapiro and Street’s conversation a year prior when he expressed his interest in leaving the healthcare sector. Street explains that his urge to retire was overpowered by guilt. With so many professionals leaving the field due to the stress of covid-19, he did not want to leave sick patients without care.

Street goes on to explain that covid-19 won’t be the only illness hospitals have to worry about this winter season. When covid-19 cases first flooded hospitals, there were not many cases of influenza and RSV. Now that life has opened back up again, hospitals are faced with an influx of Influenza A, RSV, and covid-19 cases. Facilities such as Street’s have once again reached their breaking point, leading to unsafe working conditions. As the number of patients spikes due to this trifecta of respiratory diseases, Street, a travel nurse, warns that the worst could be yet to come.

NPR’s Ari Shapiro asked again – why hasn’t Street retired yet? “You have to love people to do what we do,” the dedicated travel nurse said. “Everything in life is only temporary, even this 12-hour shift. We’ll get through it together.”

No healthcare system can function without skilled nurses. Hospitals are currently seeing a void in the number of professionals due to the pandemic. Foreign-educated and travel nurses, like Street, are coming to the aid of hospitals in this time of need so they can provide safe and adequate patient care this flu season.