In the past, some jobs were more dangerous than others. For example, truck drivers and construction workers were more likely to die on the job than most other people in society. Firefighters and police officers also face a higher risk of injury while at work. However, frontline healthcare workers dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic are now required to abide by stricter guidelines and protocols just like those mentioned above because they are under heavy pressure from all angles when it comes to health risks and overall safety.
This is the situation facing millions of healthcare workers who provide medical care to patients. Including nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, EMTs, and many others. They have a markedly higher risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, especially if they are exposed to a high volume of sick patients (such as in the emergency room) or respiratory secretions (such as intensive care unit healthcare providers).
Challenges Frontline Healthcare Workers Are Faced With
Outside of work, people who have healthcare jobs have the same pandemic-related stressors as everyone else. On top of these worries come added challenges, including:
· The fear and uncertainty of a heightened risk of infection and the ultimate worry that they may carry the COVID-19 coronavirus home and infect loved ones.
· A dwindling or already inadequate supply of PPE needed to minimize the risk of infection.
· Unusually high and increasing demands to work longer hours as their colleagues become sick or are quarantined.
· Balancing their commitment to helping others (which likely led them to their current profession in the first place) with an understandable commitment to protect themselves and their loved ones.
How Have Healthcare Workers Responded?
To this very day, healthcare workers have responded exceedingly well. They are putting in long hours and they have rapidly adapted to the situation by changing how they provide care. This includes, revising schedules, embracing telehealth, and even repurposing facilities for example, turning operating rooms into intensive care units, or creating improvised protective equipment. Through all this, they have continued to demonstrate compassion and a brave front despite the fears they may harbor.
The stories that have circulated about the lengths to which healthcare workers are going in order to protect themselves and their families: doctors staying in the garage, hotels, or rental apartments rather than returning home to risk unwittingly infecting a family member; healthcare workers avoiding their small children when they come home until they can change out of their work clothes.
So, take a moment to recognize the healthcare workers you know personally or see for medical care. Dealing with the COVID 19 pandemic and new variants that have come to change the whole pandemic dynamic is not easy for anyone, but it’s especially hard on healthcare workers. When life has returned to some sense of normalcy, hopefully, the bravery, commitment, and heroism of healthcare workers throughout this crisis will be recognized and appropriately acknowledged.
*This article is not meant to be taken as medical advice. Please follow the advice of your local health authorities when making decisions about your own health and the people around you.