“I’m worried about nurses getting each other sick.”
With the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths rising throughout much of the U.S., the mental health of medical professionals is being put to the test.
Some health care workers told ABC News they are feeling hopeless amid the pandemic.
An El Paso, Texas, ICU nurse, who asked not to be identified, said seeing terminally ill COVID-19 patients FaceTime their families is a terrible feeling.
“It’s just really heartbreaking to have to watch that because you feel completely helpless,” she said. “There’s nothing you can offer. There’s nothing you can say that is going to make it better.”
That is why the nonprofit Mental Health America is looking into the health of workers on the front lines.
A survey that included over a 1,000 health care workers found that 93% of them reported experiencing stress, with 82% saying they were experiencing emotional exhaustion, according to MHA President Paul Gionfriddo.
UC Davis Medical Center nurse Melissa Johnson Camacho said that along with the exhaustion comes an overall feeling of tension in the hospital. There’s also the fear that you or a colleague might contract coronavirus and bring it home, she said.
“I’m worried about nurses getting each other sick and not having enough nurses for all these patients that are coming in,” Camacho said.
Gionfriddo said it’s frustrating when health care workers see people refusing to follow the precautionary steps against contracting the virus.
“You know, we’re not doing the one thing that we can do that would most take care of our front-line health care workers, and that’s do what we can to stay healthy,” said Gionfriddo.
He said the lasting impact of COVID-19 could impact health care workers’ decision to stay in the profession. Some people said in the MHA survey that they have had second thoughts about whether or not this is the right profession for them, Gionfriddo said.
“I dread sometimes going into work because I just know it might not be a good day,” the El Paso nurse said. “One person might code, 10 people might code. And it’s a very stressful situation.”
Jim Ryan’s full report can be heard on the ABC News “Perspective” podcast.