Healthcare workers feel exhausted as COVID-19 continues to surge in Mississippi

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 6:28 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Relief was supposed to be on the way for overworked and overstressed hospital staff on the coast. 63 hospitals across the state, including six in South Mississippi, expected help to arrive more than two weeks ago.

The state health department said Wednesday that 75% of the workers have been deployed, but at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport, none have arrived.

“They are exhausted,” said Whitney Sutton, RN, ICU manager. “They are just mentally drained, physically drained, but they are working together as a team. They want to make sure that their patients have good outcomes.”

That has been more difficult in this last wave of the coronavirus pandemic. It has left healthcare workers at all hospitals, including Memorial Hospital at Gulfport struggling to find the energy to come in to face another day.

” There’s not a way to put it into words. Each day, it’s completely different. You have to just kind of mentally prepare to come in here,” said Jennifer Buckley, ICU RN.

They are facing long hours, extra shifts, and whatever it takes to get the job done.

“Keep doing the best that we can for our patients, their families, their loved ones. and just keep trying to help get rid of this awful virus,” said Buckley.

COVID-19 is a virus that attacks the lungs, and that puts respiratory therapists on the front line of medical care. They are short-handed and stressed by the limits of what they can do to help.

“Our current population that we have in the hospital, those patients deteriorate extremely quickly,” said Brandi Ladner, manager of the respiratory therapy department. “So it has really stressed and stretched my group extremely thin.”

That stress exists beyond the hospital’s walls. The coincidence of the Delta wave, with the start of the school year, is taking an additional toll on workers.

“We’re seeing a higher number of children being COVID positive,” said Ladner. “A lot of my staff is my age demographic, we have small children, those children get quarantined from home, so you have stress that you have to deal with at home, and then you have to come into work and try to leave it outside and it’s impossible.”

Some healthcare workers have left the profession because of COVID’s stress. For many, the fear is that number will grow unless relief comes in the form of more help or fewer COVID cases.

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