Overworked, Underprotected, Unprepared, and Scared: You Can’t Imagine What Frontline Medical Staff Are Dealing With

Frontline medical team - nurses BELatina

“When this is over, let’s remember that it wasn’t the CEOs and billionaires who saved us. It was the janitors, nurses, grocery, and food workers,” tweeted Mohamad Safa. His post received thousands of replies and users started to reflect on who we should be thanking.

Every day since January 20, 2020, when the first case of 2019-nCoV infection was confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, doctors, nurses, and the rest of the medical staff and hospital staff — patient service representatives (PSR), housekeeping, patient services assistants — have been on the frontlines of this worldwide crisis. 

Although each one of them is helping in their respective role, they want people to know that they are also humans. The everyday exposure to the virus makes them feel scared and anxious; the amount of patients and the lack of resources makes them feel overwhelmed. They really want people to know that the only difference between them and you is that they can’t stay at home. 

“I want to play my part in helping out,” a staff member from a hospital located in the Bronx told BELatina in anonymity because they can’t talk to the news media. “But we are scared because there’s a lot of changes within a day. There are constant updates,” the employee revealed. 

The staffer also shared that some patients are arriving at the hospital and lying about their symptoms and travel history so they can be seen by a doctor without scrutiny. “We have had patients that say ‘no’ when we ask if they have or have had a fever or had recently traveled to any of the countries affected by the coronavirus. They hide the truth from us and that’s the reason why many personnel are getting sick,” our source said, adding that lies will also make things worse. “People need to remember that we also have families.”

Those on the frontlines of the pandemic are highly concerned about bringing the virus to their homes. “Most physicians have never seen this level of angst and anxiety in their careers,” said Dr. Stephen Anderson to The New York Times. “I am sort of a pariah in my family. I am dipping myself into the swamp every day.”

Notwithstanding the fact that doctors and nurses spend their whole life learning new ways to help others, this does not guarantee that their wisdom will serve as a never-get-sick-pass. When there’s a shortage of protective gear and not an immediate diagnosis the virus contamination can grow right in front of you and you won’t even notice. Dr. Anderson also said that surgical masks are being reused and this makes everyone very anxious. “Those are supposed to be disposable,” he said, revealing that now he must remove and clean the mask each time. “That may sound just like a nuisance, but when you’re potentially touching something that has the virus that could kill you on it, and you’re doing it 25 times a shift, it’s kind of nerve-wracking,” he said. 

“Many of us have trained for disasters, like Ebola and hurricanes,” said Dr. Adam Brown, the president of emergency medicine for Envision Healthcare, according to The Times. “This is different because of the scale and scope of the disease.”

Besides fearing for their lives and their loved ones, hospital employees are promising to help everyone they can. “I have been doing this for 35 years,” Dr. Anderson said, “and I’m not going to stop now.” 

 

Thank you to our health heroes for not failing us. We love you all!