The leftover debris from COVID-19 will be significant and must be addressed the same as PTSD. The symptoms and emotional damage will be the same. We have to understand that a significant amount of our precious Health infrastructure will suffer greatly if psychiatrists and psychologists are not deployed to Healthcare workers like they are and wee to returning soldiers from war zones. We stand to deplete an already depleted healthcare workers pool that has been plagued by personnel shortages going back to the late sixties. The results of this looming problem caused by PTSD will be psychological and emotional damage that returning troops from intense war zones experience. This puts our entire Healthcare systems in jeopardy and will change the fabric of how Healthcare is delivered in this country and around the world.
Can you imagine working in the healthcare field for 10-15 years having seen many dire situations from patients you have treated? Then within 1 week, you see more death and destruction than have you witnessed in your entire career times 20. Imagine this death and destruction could take your life and also your fellow workers lives. Healthcare workers are trained for every situation that may arise in the course of their careers. However let’s be honest no amount of training could have prepared any worker, with a job in healthcare, for what COVID-19 has done to our country.
The dynamic is further complicated when you discover this virus has overwhelmed the system supplies and you can’t properly treat your patients with sanitary conditions you are used to having. Instead, these medical professionals are forced to cut corners and deliver patients in unclean or sanitized ambulances; using PPE equipment that you used to treat your last patient; reusing equipment because of no replacements; improvising incubators to treat 2 patients with the same machine; treating patients in hallways because every room was filled; holding the hands of frightened patients who knew they were going to die; face timing with relatives so they can say goodbye; worrying if they now are infected and will they infect their families if they go home.
For the last 2 months, our Healthcare workers have suffered and are paying a heavy price for going to their jobs every day to make sure that we are given the best care available. These heroes are going to jobs where they will see over 2000 people die each and every day. They will go to their jobs and look for a patient they were treating on their last shift and find someone else in their bed. Some will ask why they haven’t seen a certain worker recently. The conditions they are working in are no different from surgeons, nurses, and medics who have worked in battlefields form the Civil War to Viet Nam. The stress is the same so the mental fatigue will take its toll as it did in New York to the head of an E.R. in Manhattan. Dr. Lorna M. Breen is said to have committed suicide and many think it is because of her work with patients at her job as head of the E.R. This prolonged exposure to death on a massive scale can produce pressure that is built up in individuals who were never trained to cope with this level of stress. Many will survive this journey and continue their passion in this field. But sadly, many will succumb to the pressures they didn’t sign up for and will find jobs that don’t have the potential for this level of stress.
We need to ramp up efforts to promote and advertise for new workers in Healthcare because in 5 to 10 years we will feel the pinch of what will be very long lines to see a doctor. The alarm should be sounded, and treating people currently employed as workers in healthcare should be mandated to sit down with someone to be evaluated this is not something to be taken lightly because we all need these workers doing their job, we will all need them someday.