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Mental health takes toll on healthcare workers treating COVID patients: 'We're all kind of burned out'

Mental toll on healthcare workers
Posted at 9:31 PM, Aug 19, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS — Healthcare workers are tired and burnout is real.

Philip King is a family man. His most important role outside of the hospital is “Dad,” but on B7 at Methodist, he is the one helping treat COVID-19 patients as a clinical pharmacist.

Almost weekly, COVID-19 treatment regimens throughout the hospital are updated. "It is a good thing," King said.

He feels more prepared to fight the virus now than at the start.

“Number one rule I think is medication safety and so these medication profiles have gotten complex, things change very quickly and we’re using a lot of medicines that historically we don’t use on the floor,” King said.

King added that he does not know if the return to normal many long for is a reality.

“It takes everybody to contribute and do their part. Hopefully, we’ll get there, but at this point, it looks like we’re at the start of spike three, so we're all kind of burnt out,” he said.

Several studies in 2021 illustrate data points behind the feelings of healthcare workers in a COVID-era. One found 45% of respondents were dealing with PTSD, severe depression, anxiety, or drinking. Another study found nearly half of those studied felt burnout.

“We all experience different things depending on what type of unit that we’re on. Me, I feel like I experience it a little bit more,” Theresa Miller, a nurse said.

She started her career last September on the COVID unit where King also works at Methodist.

“I’m not burned out, but mentally it is hard. You have such anxiety about the new cases, what’s going to happen next, how are we going to be prepared for this time? And we all know there’s no real way we can be prepared,” Miller said.

While it is hard to continue as what is next remains unknown, both King and Miller agree it takes a team to fight this virus head-on.

“Be nice to your medical friends and your nurse friends and your doctor friends and your patient care tech friends because we really, we risk our lives every day,” Miller said.

There are mental health resources available for IU Health employees. Some of those resources include a 24/7 support hotline and employee assistance program with access to a licensed therapist at no cost.