Healthcare workers risk their lives by exposing themselves to COVID-19, and the stress of their jobs renders them susceptible to PTSD, argue Diana Hendel and Mark Goulston. They say a cultural lack of trauma awareness, combined with “warlike” work conditions, prevents these brave workers from healing. In response, the authors offer a guidebook for healthcare workers starting their healing journeys, and for those leading during this crisis.
Healthcare workers fight COVID-19 in “warlike” conditions.
Nobody should minimize the terrifying realities healthcare workers face during the pandemic. They must confront uncertainty and death on a massive scale, while working in hospitals that often lack appropriate resources, and may use makeshift facilities – soccer fields as hospital wards, for example, or ice cream trucks as temporary morgues. The infection count for healthcare workers worldwide hit 450,000 or more by June 2020.
Healthcare workers must also grapple with issues such as the absence of a unified national plan from health authorities, and ideological polarization throughout the United States. Some Americans prioritized saving the economy by re-opening society, others prioritized saving lives and following social distancing protocols. America’s healthcare workers often lack the support to properly process their traumatic experiences. Instead of taking needed breaks, they treat an unending influx of patients and manage their elevated stress levels on their own.
The horrors of the COVID-19 pandemic ...