After 2 years on front lines of COVID pandemic, burnout among health care workers is rampant

After two years of treating patients with COVID-19, burnout among health care workers is rampant.

Adding to that, angry confrontations are coming up more and more from patients.

Doctors call it a growing epidemic of front-line frustration.

Registered nurse Kelli Hale of Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma displays dismay and disappointment in her voice.

"We're just trying to do our jobs. Unfortunately, everyone thinks they're experts now. They question us and they don't believe us. They feel like we're trying to spread some agenda and all we want to do is just save lives," she said.

Healthcare workers said they're being mistreated by patients they're trying to help.

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"Shouting. Screaming profanities. Threatening our staff," said Dr. Sam Tobati, Medical Director of the Cedars-Sinai Emergency Department.

Threats such as, "I will call the board of directors. I will call the CEO. I will sue you," said Claude Stang, R.N. at Cedars-Sinai.

"We've had scenarios where family members come in and they refuse to wear their mask. We ask them to and they say no, " Torbati said.

Front-line frustration fills the air. Patients and families are lashing out at doctor's offices, clinics and ERs.

"It deflates the staff, it burns them out, it makes them cry," Torbati said.

Jonathan Vicksburg, LFMT, associate director of community Improvement at Cedars-Sinai says it's been a tough two years.

"Sometimes it gets ugly. I think social media, politics, beliefs, tribalism and all of that. How can it not play a role?" he said.

And it's been hard to recover when the hits keep on coming..

"Multiple little traumas make a big trauma. We are dysregulated in the body. I work with kids and families that just want social connection," Vicksburg said.

Connection, feeling seen and heard builds trust. And he said it goes both ways.

"Just being patient, breathing, staying in our bodies and being calm can help all of us make it through this together," Vicksburg said.

In all emergency rooms, there's a triage system. People with the most urgent needs get seen first. Patience is difficult when you're sick and worried, but healthcare workers hope a campaign of kindness will help reduce some of the anxiety.

"If we're kind and caring and civil with each other, it will help us get through this together much better," Torbati said.
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