SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Being a healthcare professional is stressful enough during normal times. Now with COVID, frontline workers of this crisis are feeling the burden the most. In fact, a recent study found a 60 percent increase in emotional exhaustion and burnout. So, who is caring for our caregivers?
It’s a strange time for Hedieh Matinrad, MD, Chief Resident of Internal Medicine at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.
“I’ve certainly felt more anxiety. There’s not just worrying about your family or your patients,” explained Dr. Matinrad.
The nurses are feeling the stress, too.
“I think the hardest thing is people are feeling these feelings and we’re conflicted. We’re healthcare workers, we should be able to handle this,” shared Jill Sproul, RN, Chief Nursing Officer at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.
Exhaustion isn’t new. Before the pandemic, research reveals that two-thirds of emergency physicians already reported feeling burned-out.
“I’ve had staff say, ‘you know, I just find it hard to get up in the morning. I’m dreaming about COVID. I can’t sleep at night,’” continued Sproul.
So as a result, more and more hospitals are finding ways to care for their caregivers.
“The resident wellness program is essentially a group of residents who create a sense of community to talk about and process what they’re experiencing,” stated Dr. Matinrad.
De-briefing sessions with psychologists have also become an important way for both doctors and nurses working in trauma to manage their stress.
“… And really talk about what they’re witnessing in suffering of patients,” continued Dr. Matinrad.
However, sometimes that’s not enough. That’s why Dr. Matinrad and her residents have taken the leap into one-on-one therapy sessions.
“We’re so good at just compartmentalizing … move on. This is not something to go through alone,” Dr. Matinrad shared.
“We’re all human and we all need support,” said Sproul.
With potential spikes continuing through winter, the World Health Organization is calling on measures to address the physical and emotional safety of healthcare workers. Experts also say COVID-19 has exposed the lack of attention given to our country’s mental health.
Contributors to this news report include: Jennifer Winter, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Rusty Reed, Videographer.
FRONTLINE WORKERS: WHO’S CARING FOR THE CAREGIVERS?
BACKGROUND: Healthcare is the fastest-growing area of the U.S. economy, employing over 18 million workers. Women represent nearly 80% of this work force. Healthcare workers face a wide range of hazards on the job, including back injuries, harmful exposures to chemicals and hazardous drugs, latex allergy, violence, and stress. Although it is possible to prevent or reduce the exposures to these hazards, healthcare workers continue to experience injuries and illnesses in the workplace. Healthcare is involved, directly or indirectly, with the delivery of health services to individuals. These services can occur in a variety of work settings, including hospitals, clinics, dental offices, out-patient surgery centers, birthing centers, emergency medical care, home healthcare, and nursing homes.
HEALTHCARE WORKERS AND STRESS: The care healthcare workers provide to others during COVID can lead to stress, anxiety, fear, and other emotions. How you cope with these emotions can affect your well-being, the care you give to others while doing your job, and the well-being of the people you care about outside of work. Some symptoms of stress that a worker might experience is irritation, anger, or denial; nervous or anxious; helpless; lack of motivation; overwhelmed or burned out; sad or depressed; and having trouble concentrating or sleeping. However, these can be managed successfully to reduce negative health and behavioral outcomes. Communicate and talk openly with coworkers and supervisors. Identify and accept those things which you do not have control over. Recognize during this pandemic that you are doing the best you can with the resources you have available. Keep a consistent daily routine when possible, such as getting adequate sleep, eating healthy meals, exercising, and take breaks during work to rest, stretch, or just check in with coworkers.
NEW STUDY SHOWS PROMISE: More than 1,000 frontline workers of COVID-19 are being recruited for a breakthrough research trial that could be a game-changer for learning more about the virus. Things like why don’t some people get the virus even when exposed to it? It could help in developing guidelines for returning to work and even as we develop new vaccines. “I feel like we are all in this together, and I wanted to play a part in trying to find a solution for what’s going on with this pandemic,” said Jody Huss, a vaccine trial participant. A team at Augusta University is getting support from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to take frontline health care research to a new level. They will separate those infected and not infected with the virus as part of what’s called the SPARTA Trial. It’s a study of police, firefighters, healthcare and dental workers and students for a year. They will test them for COVID-19 and for antibodies. When you have antibodies, “Hopefully, they will not be at risk for getting future infections,” said Dr. Stephen Blatt, the medical director for infectious diseases at TriHealth. In this study, researchers specifically want to look at the antibodies produced by these workers to see if they can be reproduced synthetically in a lab for treatments and vaccines against the virus.
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