The news about a suicide incidence by a medical doctor in April was received with great shock in the global medical fraternity. Lorna .M. Breen worked for New York Presbyterian-Allen hospital as a medical director. By then, the hospital was receiving overwhelming patient numbers due to the emergence of the Coronavirus. Her workmates, friends, and family eulogized her as a committed and ambitious doctor who had been horrified by the pandemic.
Her story brought to focus the trauma experienced by health professionals when public health is in crisis. Various surveys indicate that PTSD incidences are on the increase among medical professionals on the front line in the fight against Coronavirus. Many healthcare workers in America are exhibiting depression, panic and, anxiety symptoms as the pandemic soars; their problem has further been compounded by lack of PPEs and staff shortages.
The pandemic has caused an unfamiliar stretch on the healthcare systems in America. Some healthcare staff confirms the pandemic has exposed the gaps in the United States’ mental health state and the poor in house safety nets. According to Wendy Dean, president of the Moral Injury of Healthcare group, the pandemic came to a healthcare system that was already experiencing a crisis.
The existence of the profit-oriented healthcare system has hampered adequate care to patients because it has driven doctors to schedule many patients. Additionally, the critical one- on – one contact between doctors and patients has been replaced by electronic medical service systems, and doctors have started working remotely. The system has also been blamed for the inadequate preparation for the Coronavirus pandemic. Medical experts telling organizations what was required at the time were ignored hence exposing medical workers to the virus and the trauma of betrayal.
In her engagements with doctors, Dean says, doctors have revealed they are disgruntled. They felt they were betraying their patients due to conflicts between the care that patients expected from them and the system’s imminent limitations, a state Dean describes as moral injury. Moral injury is the perpetuation of actions that are against one’s values and moral beliefs.
The trauma healthcare providers are experiencing is not only occasioned by the virus but also by the moral injury caused by the challenges entrenched in the healthcare system, which inhibited timely response to the Coronavirus. Many medical experts proposed halting elective procedures and directing resources to combat the virus in the advent of the pandemic. However, some hospitals were hesitant because the procedures are the perceived lifeline for many hospitals in America.
The stringent licensing guidelines that continue to deter healthcare professionals from accessing mental health care are another cause of moral injury among medical care staff wishing to get psychological therapy. However, the availability of online therapists on Talkspace is an option a doctor can explore.
Despite the urgent need for medical system changes to address moral injury causes, medical workers need to prioritize self-care during this pandemic. The American Medical Association’s self-care tips include; monitoring your feelings, acknowledging them and taking action, adopting coping mechanisms, avoiding too much news on the pandemic, and getting quality sleep. Moreover, health workers can also take personal initiatives and get therapy from available platforms such as Talkspace.
The need to avoid stigmatization of healthcare staff during these distressing times cannot be overstated. Organizations must ensure their workers’ mental health is taken care of because the pandemic is still around, and it may take time to overcome the trauma. In the short term, it is critical to advocate for the support of mental health for healthcare providers, and for a medical system that puts workers ahead of profits.
Get help by utilizing the Talkspace app on the IOS app store.