Some ICU doctors and nurses are feeling fragile: numbed by COVID-19, tired of death
2020-05-18 from thestar.com
The wail was primal, an animal sound. The nurse had heard people wail before: when you tell a person someone they love has died, they can crumple, or shatter, or howl.
But the woman on the phone had not seen her husband since she dropped him off at the hospital with breathing problems, and now COVID-19 had killed him, and it was the worst call of the nurse’s career. The woman kept saying, what do I do now, what do I do now? And the nurse kept saying I’m sorry, I’m sorry. What else could she do?
“You’ve got to listen,” says the nurse. “You just listen.”
Ontario’s first confirmed coronavirus case was Jan. 27. The pandemic has not crushed our hospitals the way it did in Italy and New York and elsewhere, because we stayed at home and flattened the curve. Now Ontario is moving to reopen some businesses; people are itching to get out. It will result in new cases. Everybody knows.
Some health-care workers are doing fine, managing. But paramedics were worrying about burnout a month ago, and among health-care workers there is real strain, and cumulative weight. Some worry that the world hails them as heroes but wants to move on, and that hospitals are seen as automatic. They aren’t.
“It is out of sight, out of mind, and even more because nobody’s allowed in,” said a nurse in the Greater Toronto Area, who like other nurses in this story has been granted anonymity out of fear of workplace reprisal.
“We’re in this for the long haul, and this is not going to go away tomorrow,” says a Toronto nurse.
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