In yet another blow to an already crippled workforce, there appears to be no respite for healthcare workers this holiday season.

In the midst of what many considered the conclusion of COVID-19, a new “tridemic” threatens to take hold of the public and overwhelm healthcare systems nationwide. The outbreak, fueled by the simultaneous spread of the flu, RSV and COVID, has already rendered more than 75% of pediatric hospital beds full, and spurred the highest hospitalization rate of seniors with the flu or respiratory illness in a decade.

PBS reporter Judy Woodruff discussed the dilemma with Dr. Megan Ranney, an Emergency Physician and Deputy Dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health. Dr. Ranney explained that multiple factors worked in tandem to create this “perfect storm” poised to overpower the health industry.

Dr. Ranney pointed out that underfunding and a lack of critical resources have permeated the healthcare space for years—but these systemic issues were exacerbated during the pandemic. According to her, these problems “have worsened, because we have lost staff, because we have seen hospitals, and particularly pediatric beds, close over the course of a pandemic.” Ranney advised anyone who was deeply concerned to seek medical care when sick, but urged individuals who are well enough to eat, drink, and walk on their own to stay home for the time being to free up space in emergency rooms.

In addition, Dr. Ranney called for widespread compassion for healthcare workers. She reflected, “They have stuck around when so many others have left.” Amid debilitating burnout, healthcare workers have persisted as their jobs have only become more difficult.

Personnel are the backbone of the health industry—without an adequate labor force, we all suffer. As healthcare facilities become increasingly strained for resources amid higher rates of patient hospitalization, it is imperative that hospitals and clinics employ unique strategies to aptly equip their workforces to succeed.

Listen to the report or read the full transcript here.