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(INDIANAPOLIS) – COVID-19 hospitalizations are about one-seventh what they were last fall. But doctors and nurses aren’t pausing for breath yet.

Last fall, Indiana hospitals were treating more than 3,000 COVID patients a day every day for a month, and struggling with staff burnout, from both the workload and a steady drumbeat of deaths. While COVID hospitalizations are rising again, they’re nowhere close to where they were then.

But Indiana Hospital Association president Brian Tabor says fewer COVID cases means hospitals are dealing with a backlog of non-COVID patients who put off treatment during the pandemic. He says he doesn’t expect things to settle down early next year — and then only if enough people are vaccinated to avoid another surge.

Tabor says hospitals are making a point of offering mental health resources to help staffers cope. Federal funding has assisted with new programs to help staff deal with the strain, including “mindfulness” exercises at the start of the day to get providers ready for the shift ahead.

Tabor says hospitals have gotten some relief from understaffing issues which complicated the patient load further. With more staffers vaccinated, there are fewer instances of hospitals being short-staffed because doctors or nurses either catch COVID or have to quarantine because of contact with someone who did.

But he says that’s been partly offset by some early retirements among staffers who have had enough of the chronic strain of the pandemic.