SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Surgery nurses stood alongside their families outside of UC Davis Medical Center Thursday in a call for help. They say coronavirus cases are surging but there is not enough staff to respond.

“We don’t accept this because it puts patient safety at risk,” Sara Koeller, a nurse at UC Davis Hospital, said.

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In response, UC Davis hospital said there is not a staffing shortage, and they meet or exceed the state’s ratio requirements.
But those on the front lines don’t agree.

“We need more staff and we need more support staff,” said Koeller.

In San Joaquin County, federal medical teams have been sent to two hospitals. On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom said tens of thousands of licensed medical workers are available to help through his touted California Health Corps program.

“Over 96,000 people went to that Health Corps website and 35,000 have availed themselves of their active capacity to have a license or registration, so we can begin to pull from that resource space,” he said.

The governor says those staff would be sent to alternate care facilities, but those numbers don’t seem to match up. In all, 10,000 applied for the program, but many didn’t have the license to work in the ICU.

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Almost 5,000 have been approved for deployment, but less than 900 have been hired, and those staffers have been sent to skilled nursing facilities or nursing homes, not area hospitals.

“In our department, we are understaffed and we’ve been bringing this to management for nine months,” said Koeller.

So why is there a disconnect between California’s governor and his own health care program? CBS13 has reached out consistently to the state and CAL OES asking for clarification but has not heard back.

Now that the Health Corps is proving there is not enough staff, some city leaders are coming up with their own solutions as hospitals in their city face surge capacity.

“I was told the plan that had been vetted and had been agreed upon was to send people to hospitals in different cities,” said Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs.

He is facing overwhelmed hospitals in his city, and the promised Health Corps seemingly just sit there.

“We will do what we can with the folks we have,” said Tubbs.

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The state said it’s now reaching out to the 4,000 applicants who have the required licenses.

Marissa Perlman