Exhausted Health Care Workers Feel Betrayed by Those Who Ignore COVID Rules

January 18, 2021 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce, Engagement & Morale

Last modified January 19, 2021

According to this article from KQED News, the crush of COVID-19 patients from post-holiday surges continues to overwhelm hospitals. California passed a grim milestone this week: more than 31,000 people died from the virus and the state recorded an average of more than 500 deaths over the past seven days. In the Bay Area, Santa Clara County has run out of morgue space, and three 65-foot trailers have been brought in to house the deceased; the county may soon activate a “mass fatality plan.”

Health care workers are feeling the pain of this catastrophe. The pandemic has completely exhausted them, but many also use the word “betrayed” to describe their feelings toward the public, and they have grown angry at people for bypassing safety rules because they know much of the suffering is avoidable.

“I have never lost so many patients in a short period of time,” said Dr. Dinora Chinchilla, an Orange County pulmonologist specializing in critical care. She and her colleagues are feeling it in a big way. “We can see it in each other’s faces,” Chinchilla said. “I’ve had janitors look at me, and they’re like, ‘Oh, doc. You look so pale.’ ”

Doctors and nurses describe a deep disconnect between the reality inside hospitals and life on the streets. “The public doesn’t see the people who are being rushed to the hospital who are like fishes out of water, who can’t breathe,” said Brittney Watson, an emergency room nurse in Oakland who says the current surge is upending her hospital. 

Dr. Clay Josephy, a critical care fellow in San Francisco commented: “To not believe in COVID at this point is the highest form of cognitive dysfunction, and by extension the pinnacle of insult to literally everyone, most especially health care workers.”

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