ATLANTA (CBS46) -- How have hospitals in Georgia, and across the country, been faring during the fourth surge of the COVID-19 pandemic? Emory Healthcare says this surge is affecting healthcare staff differently. And as fatigue sets in, some are even dealing with workplace violence.

“Listen, we get it,” said Dr. Bryce Gartland, Hospital Group President of Emory Healthcare. “We understand that people are frustrated. People are ready for this pandemic to end.”

But the end of the pandemic seems further and further away. According to numbers from the Georgia Department of Health, the state right now is at the 90.6% of capacity for its ICU beds. Georgians are deep into the fourth wave of covid-19 cases in hospitals.

“This fourth surge really is taking a much larger toll than the first three on the staff,” said Gartland. “That empathy fatigue as well is really significant and I think that's particularly true as we've gotten into this where it's largely unvaccinated individuals being hospitalized, that can be very frustrating and demoralizing for our healthcare providers.”

Gartland says just like how airline workers are facing tensions over mask mandates, hospital staff are dealing with a significant increase in what he calls “workplace violence.”

“It's a real challenge for our care team members to have to deal with that in addition to the physical exhaustion, in addition to empathy fatigue as well,” said Gartland.

He says the physical and verbal confrontations healthcare staff face is over the science behind the coronavirus.

“We know that masks and vaccines work, and unfortunately those have become very politicized,” said Gartland.

The Georgia Department of Health reports about 47% of Georgians are vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Copyright 2021 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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