When we think about the COVID-19 impact on our lives, we think about the over 560,000 lives lost, mostly due to the malignant, self-interested incompetence of the "former guy," and the toll taken on the economy in the past year. There's another impact on our lives that may extend into the future: the danger of overworked and burned out health care workers -- doctors, nurses, technicians, etc. -- simply leaving their profession.
In a poll by the Washington Post - Kaiser Family Foundation, 29% of health care workers say that they have considered leaving their occupation. We've seen the images of these workers in overloaded ICUs, dealing with the stress of avoiding exposure to the virus, while treating a never-ending stream of patients, many on ventilators and at the end stage of life. From the poll findings:
"Even before the pandemic, America was facing a looming shortage of doctors and nurses. Additional losses to the medical workforce could spell dire consequences for U.S. health care. Because of the training required, it takes years of investment for the pipeline to produce a single doctor or nurse.
Experts warn the looming lack of medical professionals could make health care more expensive, less accessible and worse in quality as those remaining are asked to do more in an already overtaxed system. According to studies and industry estimates, as many as 1 million nurses could retire by 2030 and the country could be short an estimated 130,000 doctors by then. (our emphasis)
Psychiatrists treating health care professionals for PTSD, anxiety and depression are indicating that the number of health care professionals considering leaving indicates a broader, unaddressed problem even among those willing to stay the course.
There's also the betrayal they express for the reckless, sociopathic COVIDiots who, to this day, refuse to socially distance, wear a mask and get vaccinated:
"It’s not just the danger they’ve endured, they say. Many talked about the betrayal and hypocrisy they feel from the public they have sacrificed so much to save — their clapping and hero-worship one day, then refusal to wear masks and take basic precautions the next, even if it would spare health workers the trauma of losing yet another patient.
'You feel expendable. You can’t help thinking about how this country sent us to the front lines with none of the equipment needed for the battle,' said Sharon Griswold, an emergency room doctor in Pennsylvania." (our emphasis)
When we talk about containing the virus, we have to do something about supporting our health care workers, financially, psychologically and materially who have borne the brunt of the work to save lives, sometimes at the sacrifice of their own. They're not abstract "heroes," they're human beings.
(photo: A COVID-19 ICU ward last year in Brooklyn. Victor J. Blue / NY Times)