Many healthcare workers have found this pandemic especially difficult for their mental health, and with good reason. It’s no question that the healthcare industry is emotionally draining, but COVID-19 adds a whole new wrinkle to trauma, grief and PTSD for these workers.
One New York Times article recounts the stories of workers who care for COVID-19 patients. Bridget Ryan, who helped one COVID patient, describes just how difficult it is.
The patient, a 75-year-old man, was dying in the hospital. No family members were allowed in the room with him—only one female nurse. He was not even Ryan’s patient, but everyone else was slammed.
Ryan wore full protective gear, dimmed the lights, turned on soothing music, freshened his pillows, held his hand, spoke softly to him and held an iPad close to him so he could hear the voice of a grief-stricken family relative over Skype.
After he died, Ryan wept in a hallway.
A few days later, he privately messaged Dr. Heather Farley, who directs a comprehensive staff support program at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware. I’m not the kind of nurse that can act like I’m fine and that something sad didn’t just happen,” she wrote.
Healthcare workers are the superheroes of our age. But they are emotional beings as well, and their jobs still face stress, death and trauma every day—despite the flood of community thank-you notes and balcony shouts and delivered treats.