‘Burnout is real’: COVID takes toll on health workers’ morale

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Hospital generic(WRDW)
Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 9:52 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Hospitals are overwhelmed and understaffed in the fight against COVID.

We’re learning members of Georgia’s National Guard are coming to our area to help local health care workers on the frontlines of this ongoing battle.

“It’s hard to describe the burnout. I love being a nurse, but, you know, there were days that I came in there and I thought ‘I don’t know what else I can give,’” said Kelli Holder, ICU nurse, AU health.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp says members of the National Guard will be deployed to the Department of Public Health testing sites in our area, and to University Hospital.

University requested four guard members to help in the emergency department, but so far, there is no confirmation on how many are coming. We’ve heard from health care workers who say more help is exactly what they need.

Health care workers have, of course, been through many highs and lows of this pandemic.

However, the testing increase and how quickly the number of cases have risen, has presented new challenges.

“I have to admit I was scared in the beginning, not necessarily to come into work but, you know, how were we going to take care of our patients?,” said Holder.

Working through several highs and lows, Holder has been working, caring for COVID patients.

It’s a part of her daily routine.

“We have had I believe a day and a half, and that’s it when we haven’t had a COVID patient,” she said.

The highly contagious omicron surge has opened the door for new challenges.

“You’re always trying to wait for the other shoe to drop,” said Holder.

All three of our local hospital chief medical officers have told us the concern isn’t the number of patients getting COVID, it’s the number of staff.

“We have sick patients but more so it affects us in the way of staffing you know, our nurses and our doctors, our PCTs, our staff is sick because it is so contagious,” she said.

This leaves a heavier load for everyone else.

“You know that burnout is real. You know, we have nightmares about it, we’ve lost people,” she said.

They’ve had to take on more patients per nurse, sometimes bringing in staff from other departments to help out.

However, 22 months of fighting COVID has taught them a thing or two.

“I feel like over the last two years I’ve become better at being a patient advocate, a family advocate. The family members are not here to be with their loved ones,” she said.

For nearly two years they’ve adapted and stayed ready for whatever comes next.

Holder says she’s grateful for all the thanks and appreciation the community has shown her and her coworkers throughout the pandemic.

“I hope that makes us realize how precious life is.”

Kelli Holder

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