NewsPublic Affairs / November 18, 2020

Health Care Workers Overwhelmed, Emotional Toll Of COVID-19 'Long-Lasting'

Article origination IPBS-RJC
The percentage of ICU beds available statewide in Indiana hospital systems is at its lowest level since the start of the pandemic.  - Justin Hicks/IPB News

The percentage of ICU beds available statewide in Indiana hospital systems is at its lowest level since the start of the pandemic.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Indiana health care workers say they’re no longer the front line of attack in the fight against COVID-19 – they’re the last line of defense as spread of the virus worsens.

Sarah Paturalski is the vice president of nursing at Memorial Hospital in South Bend. She said the pandemic – and its latest surge – has created the worst nursing shortages they’ve ever seen.

“There are patients that, unfortunately, we can’t meet their needs right now because we’re inundated," Paturalski said. "We have an abundance of patients – more than we can, quite frankly, handle right now.”

READ MORE: Hoosier Hospitals Bear Brunt Of COVID-19 Surge: 'It's About To Become A Catastrophe'

Paturalski said health care workers are also struggling with the numbers of deaths. She said while they’re used to dealing with death and dying, these levels are not what they’re used to.

“We’ve taken a vow for no one to die alone … and sometimes this means that we are their family members and we are holding their hands as they pass – when just moments before, we tried to save them,” Paturalski said.

Paturalski said the emotional toll created by the pandemic for everyone who works in health care will have long-lasting effects.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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