Trying times for Springfield hospital caregivers during COVID-19 surge

Published: Nov. 27, 2020 at 7:46 PM CST
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If you’re tired of hearing and dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, imagine how front line health care workers feel.

”The public doesn’t understand I think how tough it is right now to be a health care provider,” said Mercy Emergency Department Director Vicki Good. “We’re taking care of these patients and putting ourselves in danger every day.”

“We changed our lives,” said CoxHealth CEO/President Steve Edwards. “For eight months we’ve sacrificed and we’re fatigued.”

From our major trauma centers to rural hospitals, our health care system is being pushed to the limit.

“We are at a crisis point,” said Dr. Shawn Usery, a CoxHealth physician.

While new rooms are even being added to take on the extra pandemic patient load, the physical changes taking place at Springfield hospitals are nothing compared to the emotional ones.

“Unless you’ve walked in our shoes you cannot possibly understand how it is to watch the struggles of our patients and to see so many deaths,” said Wanda Brown, a Mercy RN who attends to COVID-19 patients. “We’re all hurting and we’re all very tired.”

“Prior to COVID about 40 to 50 percent of nurses and physicians experienced a high degree of burnout in their career,” Good pointed out. “Now you lay COVID on top of that and what we’re creating is more and more emotional and physical exhaustion.”

Even when those front line healthcare workers leave work there are more discouraging moments awaiting on the outside.

“They decompress at the end of the day and they struggle for sure,” said CoxHealth Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Robin Trotman. “They struggle when they go to the restaurant and see people not being safe. And they really struggle when they hear the disbelief, the doubters, this polarization of our community.”

“For some people it still doesn’t feel real because it’s not at their backdoor,” added Amanda Hedgpeth, CoxHealth Director of Hospital Operations. “We’re here to say it is real. Our staff is becoming worn out from living this every day. They need some relief, some pressure taken off of them. The way that can really happen is to have the community rally around us and do what we need them to do which is to stay safe.”

And while we are a nation divided when it comes to how we feel about the pandemic, hopefully one thing we can all agree on is that our front line healthcare workers deserve our thanks and respect.

“They’re absolute heroes,” Edwards said. “They’re giving everything they can to this community right now and they will continue to do so.”

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