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Each COVID-19 Surge Poses A Risk For Healthcare Workers: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The surging Delta variant is heaping on fresh trauma as the United States and other nations begin to study Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in health workers

Each COVID-19 Surge Poses A Risk For Healthcare Workers: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Highlights
  • Suicide rate of doctors was more than double that of others: Experts
  • Workers say they don’t have to pay for treatment, medication: Experts
  • Nothing wrong with feeling this way, but you have to deal with it: Expert

Nurse Chris Prott’s knees jump, his heart races, his mouth goes dry and his mind floods with dark memories when he talks about working in the Milwaukee VA Medical Center’s intensive care unit (ICU) during pandemic surges. Nurse Prott shares a struggle common to many of the military veterans for whom he has cared for years: symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Also Read: Vaccination On Wheels To Inoculate Labourers Against COVID-19 In Delhi

Nurse Prott was among a half dozen ICU staffers who told Reuters of symptoms such as waking from nightmares bathed in sweat; flashbacks to dying patients during the pandemic’s fear-filled early days; flaring anger; and panic at the sound of medical alarms. Those whose symptoms last longer than one month and are severe enough to interfere with daily life can be diagnosed with PTSD.

The surging Delta variant is heaping on fresh trauma as the United States and other nations begin to study PTSD in health workers. Data already showed that U.S. health workers were in crisis before COVID-19.

While PTSD is associated with combat, it can arise among civilians after natural disasters, abuse or other trauma. Health workers can be reluctant to equate their experience with that of returning soldiers.

“I feel like a schmuck calling it PTSD,” Prott said.

It took me a long time to be able to talk to somebody because I see guys with real PTSD. What I’ve got going on, it’s nothing in comparison, so you feel guilty for thinking that.

Psychiatrist Dr. Bessel van der Kolk knows better.

Also Read: UN: Brief Gains In Air Quality In 2020 Over COVID Lockdowns

“On the surface, a nurse at your local hospital will not look like a guy coming back from Afghanistan,” said the author of “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.” “But underneath it all, we have these core neurobiology-determined functions that are the same.”

Pre-pandemic studies showed that rates of PTSD in front-line health workers varied from 10 per cent to 50 per cent. The suicide rate among doctors was more than twice that of the general public.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has tapped a military psychologist and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) National Center for PTSD to help it measure the pandemic’s impact.

Texas Tech University Health Science Center psychiatry resident Dr. Huseyin Bayazit and researchers in his native Turkey surveyed 1,833 Turkish health workers last autumn. The results, presented in May at an American Psychiatric Association meeting, showed a PTSD rate of 49.5 per cent among nonphysicians and 36 per cent for doctors. Rates of suicidal thoughts increased as workers spent more time on COVID-19 units.

Unions want to mitigate trauma by setting national rules for the number of patients under each nurse’s care. Workers say they should not have to pay for therapy, medication, and other interventions.

The AMA and other groups want more confidentiality for doctors who seek mental health services. Most ICU staff who discussed PTSD with Reuters requested anonymity for fear of repercussions at work.

New York’s Mount Sinai Health System and Chicago’s Rush University System for Health provide free, confidential mental health services.

Mount Sinai’s new Center for Stress, Resilience, and Personal Growth offers a military-inspired “Battle Buddies” peer-support program for nurses. A  chaplain  from Rush’s “Road Home” program for veterans runs a “post-traumatic growth” bereavement support group for ICU nurses.

The VA system provides no-cost, short-term mental health counseling through its employee assistance program. Many local VA facilities supplement those with spiritual counseling and crisis incident response teams, a spokesperson said.

About 5,000 U.S. physicians quit every two years due to burnout, said Dr. Christine Sinsky, an AMA vice president. The annual cost is about $4.6 billion – including lost revenue from vacancies and recruitment expenses, she said.

Hospital survey results in March led the Department of Health and Human Services to warn “staffing shortages have affected patient care, and that exhaustion and trauma have taken a toll on staff’s mental health.”

Trauma surgeon Dr. Kari Jerge volunteered to work in a Phoenix COVID-19 ward during last winter’s surge. She turned down substantially more pay to return to the ICU after the Delta variant surge.

Jerge encourages others to prioritize “self-preservation,” but worries about the loss of expertise. “There is infinite value in a nurse who’s been working in the ICU for 20 years and just has a gut feeling when something’s going wrong with a patient,” she said.

Nurse Pascaline Muhindura, 40, who cares for COVID-19 patients in Kansas City, Missouri, has advocated for health worker safety since losing a co-worker to the disease early in the pandemic.

“It keeps getting worse and worse. We are heading back to that place – that woke up those emotions again,” said Muhindura, who added that many employers do not offer adequate insurance coverage for therapy.

An ICU fosters the kind of camaraderie forged in battle. A group of Southern California COVID-19 nurses got matching tattoos. Health workers commiserate over crying their way home after tough shifts, support each other on social media, and push colleagues to seek help.

“There is nothing wrong with feeling this way,” said VA nurse Prott. “You have to deal with it though.”

Also Read: Genome Sequencing By Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium Progressively Increased: Centre

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

22,95,44,435Cases
19,20,52,504Active
3,27,83,741Recovered
47,08,190Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 22,95,44,435 and 47,08,190 have died; 19,20,52,504 are active cases and 3,27,83,741 have recovered as on September 22, 2021 at 3:49 am.

India

3,35,31,498 26,964Cases
3,01,9897,586Active
3,27,83,741 34,167Recovered
4,45,768 383Deaths
In India, there are 3,35,31,498 confirmed cases including 4,45,768 deaths. The number of active cases is 3,01,989 and 3,27,83,741 have recovered as on September 22, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,27,629 3,131

44,269 960

63,44,744 4,021

1,38,616 70

Kerala

45,39,926 15,768

1,61,765 5,813

43,54,264 21,367

23,897 214

Karnataka

29,69,361 818

13,769 617

29,17,944 1,414

37,648 21

Tamil Nadu

26,48,688 1,647

16,993 9

25,96,316 1,619

35,379 19

Andhra Pradesh

20,40,708 1,179

13,905 483

20,12,714 1,651

14,089 11

Uttar Pradesh

17,09,693 13

194 0

16,86,612 13

22,887

West Bengal

15,62,710 537

7,741 69

15,36,291 592

18,678 14

Delhi

14,38,556 39

400 21

14,13,071 18

25,085

Odisha

10,21,216 462

4,844 103

10,08,226 560

8,146 5

Chhattisgarh

10,05,120 26

297 0

9,91,260 26

13,563

Rajasthan

9,54,275 12

99 8

9,45,222 4

8,954

Gujarat

8,25,751 14

133 0

8,15,536 14

10,082

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,410 8

90 6

7,81,803 14

10,517

Haryana

7,70,754 8

328 12

7,60,618 20

9,808

Bihar

7,25,907 6

60 9

7,16,188 15

9,659

Telangana

6,63,906 244

4,938 53

6,55,061 296

3,907 1

Punjab

6,01,359 36

304 3

5,84,554 37

16,501 2

Assam

5,98,864 441

5,081 97

5,87,970 338

5,813 6

Jharkhand

3,48,139 14

65 10

3,42,941 4

5,133

Uttarakhand

3,43,405 12

249 18

3,35,765 29

7,391 1

Jammu And Kashmir

3,28,214 145

1,450 11

3,22,345 154

4,419 2

Himachal Pradesh

2,17,403 263

1,715 99

2,12,033 162

3,655 2

Goa

1,75,690 107

886 76

1,71,507 29

3,297 2

Puducherry

1,25,618 101

922 55

1,22,864 46

1,832

Manipur

1,18,870 197

2,174 9

1,14,861 203

1,835 3

Tripura

83,956 51

353 7

82,794 44

809

Mizoram

82,815 1,355

15,363 223

67,184 1,127

268 5

Meghalaya

79,817 150

1,878 18

76,558 167

1,381 1

Chandigarh

65,195 7

44 3

64,333 4

818

Arunachal Pradesh

54,190 64

413 3

53,504 60

273 1

Sikkim

31,014 43

627 27

30,007 70

380

Nagaland

30,959 52

470 3

29,832 46

657 3

Ladakh

20,743 6

144 6

20,392

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,670

0 0

10,666

4

Lakshadweep

10,360 1

9 1

10,300

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,607 7

17 4

7,461 3

129

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