‘It has been challenging’: COVID-19 pandemic weighs heavy on local medical heroes

Updated: Jul. 23, 2020 at 11:15 PM EDT
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MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WMBF) – Doctors and nurses in the Grand Strand and across the world are considered modern-day heroes as they continue the long battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

But sometimes, these healthcare heroes need support too.

Not only are they tending to coronavirus patients, but they’re also trying to make it back home to their families safely. And for some medical staff members, the weight they’re carrying during this global health crisis can feel a bit too heavy to hold.

That’s why hospitals across the Grand Strand offer services to their medical workers to make sure they get the help they need while on the front lines.

Tidelands Health offers mental health services through its Employee Assistance Program.

Renee Shore, manager for EAP and Wellness Services, said it offers counseling resources for employees and their families. It also allows them to talk to a counselor that can help them with issues, such as anxiety depression and loss.

But Shore said two of the major issues facing healthcare heroes during this pandemic is compassion fatigue and burnout.

“The reason for the high risk of compassion fatigue and emotional burnout for our caregivers is because they spend countless hours and exhaustive days caring for our patients and caring for our community,” Shore said. “They tend to go home and be the primary caregiver provider for their families and their loves ones and so they expend a lot of that compassion and it can be very wearing and draining.”

Nicole Kassen is a medical hero at Tidelands Health, on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.

Kassen is a registered nurse who was called to work in the critical care unit in April because of the amount of COVID cases the hospital was seeing, so she could be at their bedside to help the patients get through it.

Kassen says many medical staff members have experienced hard days in the unit which includes seeing some patients pass on.

“It has been challenging for all of us because the COVID infection is new and we’re all learning as we go,” Kassen said.

Kassen said the support of the community and hospital during the crisis helps many medical workers keep up the motivation, to keep fighting during this pandemic.

“I feel the hospital is very supportive of what we need, as well as taking care our ourselves as well as our patients,” Kassen said. “I think nurses have always been supported by the community and I think we all appreciate how everyone recognizes how hard we work and hopefully this puts more light on what we do for our patients. It is a privilege to serve and there’s [nothing else I want to do but] be a nurse.”

Medical staff at Tidelands Health is encouraging people to show appreciation to their caregivers, whether it be a “Thank-you banner” or a “round of applause.” The hospital allows members of the community to give back to their medical workers through the “Helping the Helpers” initiative, which can be accessed on the Tidelands Health website.

RELATED LINK | Helping the Helpers

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