by Joy Avery
It’s the most wonderful time of the year – the holidays are here! Holiday parades, tree lightings, home decorating, football bowl games – all are in full swing. Just seeing the eyes of children light up and their excitement as they begin to celebrate and realize it’s that time of year reminds me that we all have so many things to be thankful for: family, friends, colleagues, healthcare workers, world leaders. My heart goes out to each as they have faced so much diversity and so much unknown – not only day-to-day, but many times hour-by-hour since the beginning of the pandemic.
We continue to face new COVID-19 variants and breakthrough cases which bring on more of the unknown. We have people around us that have been apart from their families for months due to fear or mandates or even being sick themselves with COVID. We have patients who have been isolated from their families during their most desperate time of need due to visitor restrictions. And we have healthcare workers that have worked relentlessly and tirelessly through the most challenging time in their careers dealing with the unknown.
These healthcare workers have given their all, initially with so much love shown to them – even being called “healthcare heroes” – with an outpouring of love with food, cards and parades. But with time, now these same “healthcare heroes” have the feeling that they have been forgotten and are showing signs of compassion fatigue, burnout and even PTSD. In one recent study conducted by the American Nurses Foundation (ANF), it is reported that one in four nurses have sought mental health support since March 2020. Of the 22,000 nurses surveyed, 24% reported that they sought mental health services since the pandemic started last March. For those younger than 34, this percentage rose to 36%. More than half of the nurses who responded to the survey reported exhaustion, just over a third were “anxious or unable to relax,” and slightly less than a quarter reported “feeling depressed” in the 14 days prior to completing the survey.
According to the New York Times, America’s healthcare workers are in crisis, even in places that have had sharp declines in coronavirus infections and deaths. Battered and burned out, they feel unappreciated by a nation that idolized them as Covid heroes but often scoffed at mask mandates and refused to follow social distancing guidelines. Many of those same Americans are now ignoring their pleas to get vaccinated.
So yes, it is the most magical time of year. But let’s not forget all of the healthcare workers that continue to battle the day-to-day operations of healthcare, and at the same time working through a continually changing pandemic. And let’s not forget that there are patients and families who are sick and suffering, still having to deal with making life-changing decisions. Frequent rounding, check-ins, communication and outreach to patients, families, staff and leadership should already be a part of your routine. This time of year, it might be time to ramp up your programs even more. Yes, the holidays are here and bring joy to many as it should, but sometimes this brings grief and sadness to ones who are suffering.
We at CipherHealth want to wish each of you one of the most magical holiday times ever; but we also give hugs, love, thoughts and prayers to the ones out there that are having a rough time during this holiday season, whatever the reason.
Joy Avery, MSN, RN
SVP Clinical Strategy