Updated: Apr 11
By Nadirah Thurston, Licensed Practical Nurse
An ABC News article highlighted a current phenomenon happening which involves the harsh treatment of health care workers across the country: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/health-workers-saluted-heroes-now-threats-80308274. According to this article doctors and nurses across America are being harassed by desperate and hostile victims and their family members. These essential workers that were once applauded and thanked for their work dedication are now targets for attack because of their close connection to the patients of Covid-19 and the pandemic.
People in general are exhausted with the strict rules and regulations put into place to lessen the spread of the virus, such as continuous mask enforcement and mandatory vaccination protocols. Some families are still not allowed to visit loved ones throughout their hospital stay. This consequence is causing people to blame the healthcare team for patients' acuity and some are even calling the COVID-19 virus a hoax by challenging the vaccines and their effectiveness.
Attacks against nurses and doctors are happening more frequently. In Colorado one situation occurred when a passing driver threw an unidentified liquid on a nurse that was working at a mobile vaccination clinic. At another health facility in Missouri one nurse had to have an x-ray completed after an assault because of the fear that her shoulder was dislocated or broken.
These occurrences are causing healthcare workers to become skeptical about where or when to work. Certain facilities have put into place different protocols to adhere, in order to keep their workers as safe as possible. Some hospitals have limited the number of entrances and other companies have put in place an alert called "panic buttons" which are to be activated when and if a threat arises.
Many healthcare workers have put matters into their own hands by consistently changing out of their scrubs when they are outside of work. This in fact works by not bringing attention to themselves or their occupation. The harm that these workers have endured within these beginning stages of the pandemic has caused social anxiety and unforeseen future complications.
Nevertheless these last couple of years have been extremely hard on us all, and the pandemic is just not one person's fault. We all have much to learn about bettering our country and nation. Sadly we still have a long way to go because instead of working together and understanding each other's trials and tribulations we still focus on redirecting blame onto one another.
Healthcare workers should not be threatened and treated with hostility because of the occupation they chose to pursue. Americans have a tendency to want to blame someone else for the problems that they are experiencing, and lash out at undeserving bystanders. This is a trait that has been a part of this country since it was "discovered" and we must change our fate and work as one , this is the best way to create a better tomorrow.
In recent developments many healthcare workers have reported that they have exceeded their burnout point and this article can be found at https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2021-11-15/us-faces-crisis-of-burned-out-health-care-workers . This is indeed a repercussion to the recent years of unforgiving health crisis due to the pandemic. Now, the essential workers that once sacrificed their own well-being for others face their own unprecedented times.
Currently doctors and nurses alike are complaining of overwhelming stress and are threatening to quit. These new onsets of depression, exhaustion and sleep disorders are making for a modern day shortage of healthcare workers as a whole. Now there have even been clinicians reporting their healthcare patients have symptoms of PTSD and suicidal ideation.
These circumstances have caused staff shortages throughout the country and an inability to work safely and satisfy patient needs appropriately. Even before the pandemic healthcare workers had worries about working long exhausting hours and increases in patient volume but now front line workers face a “moral injury” concerning their disconnect to the actual value of their work. Balancing these complex tasks are overwhelming combined with the feelings of isolation and loneliness that comes with the nature of the job.
The future of this country and planet relies on the collaboration of healthcare officials and the rejuvenation of systematic checks and balances. Investments must be made in preventative strategies and workers in medicine should be continuously monitored for personal health or wellness related issues. Healthcare in general must be reassessed and the relationship of trust must be reestablished with the public.
It is critical for the front-line staff personnel to have their voices heard and should be protected with long term support. These incentives for a change to create a better world will encourage the future youth to indulge in the work of helping people. The idea still stands that in order to give respect one must give it and we can start by taking accountability for the welfare of one another.