Another round for frontline workers and, for them, it seems COVID-19 will never end

A psychiatrist says that frontline workers are not only suffering from burn out from dealing with COVID-19, but mental trauma that could be long lasting.

MIAMI, Fla. – The surge of the new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is adding extra weight to already overworked frontline healthcare workers. And, it only seems to be getting worse.

The president of the union that represents Jackson Healthcare workers said that medical professionals are exhausted, heartbroken and frustrated because they believe that the new surge could have been prevented.

“You know, more than 95 percent of COVID-19 patients at Jackson are unvaccinated. It feels like the rug has been pulled out from under us,” said Martha Baker. “It’s the added frustration of, ‘You could have gotten the shot. Why didn’t you?’ This is crazy,” Baker said.

And the physical toll of treating COVID patients seems endless.

“They are having to physically move patients and it takes 5 or 6 caregivers to flip over 200 pound adult so that (the person) can breathe,” Baker said.

[ALSO SEE: COVID patients show regret about masks, vaccines as hospitals fill up]

The surge of unvaccinated patients in hospital beds is presenting a formidable challenge to the hope that ample vaccine supply would bring some reprieve

“Boom! It is gone and going back up all for the sake for not taking the shot,” she said.

Psychiatrist Dr. Arthur Bregman said that the new wave is putting pressure on the already tired.

“Hospital workers are upset because all they seem to be seeing are unvaccinated people. They see it first hand.”

He argues that they are “not burned out as much as traumatized. We have a term for it in mental health, ‘psychiatric vicarious traumatization.’”

[ALSO SEE: Republican leaders push for followers to get COVID-19 vaccines]

Bregman explained that just witnessing trauma and having an emotional connection to it could have long term mental health impacts.

“You can’t get rid of it. You think about it over and over again. It really can affect people’s mental health,” Bregman said.

One doctor described it as a moral injury and said that frontline workers are feeling wounded by what is happening right now.

Baker shared that community leaders, even some Miami-Dade County commissioners, have reached out to ask how they can help and celebrate the work of those on the medical front lines.

She said the best way to show appreciation is to protect yourself and your loved ones and get vaccinated against COVID-19.

For information on where COVID-19 vaccines are available in South Florida, click here.

About the Authors:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local