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VOICES OF HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS

Our frontline workers and health care providers persevered through unimaginable tragedies and trauma during the pandemic. Hear the firsthand stories of courage, dedication, and compassion from those who continue to put the needs of others first in the face of COVID-19.

Voices of Health Care Professionals

Mitchell's Story

As a healthcare professional in the NICU, COVID-19 was the most difficult challenge I've ever experienced. Whether it was the devastating loss of family members and colleagues from the initial infection or the consequences of long COVID …

Voices of Health Care Professionals

Lauren's Story

Up until recently I had worked in respiratory care at the same large University Hospital for over 10 years. COVID-19 made our jobs more critical and we had to care for more patients with the same number of respiratory therapists we had pre-COVID-19.

As a healthcare professional in the NICU, COVID-19 was the most difficult challenge I've ever experienced. Whether it was the devastating loss of family members and colleagues from the initial infection or the consequences of long COVID-19, the presence of refrigerator trucks used as makeshift morgues in the parking lot of the hospital, or seeing the mothers of our NICU patients die in the early days before vaccination was widely available, COVID-19 has changed my sense of being forever. COVID-19 vanquished even our best and most modern technologies and treatments. The presence of immunization technologies was our only chance of avoiding significantly more morbidity and mortality.

My biggest fear was for my patients. How would they be affected? If I contracted COVID-19, would I be able to continue to provide care for them if I recovered? Several times, multiple staff had COVID-19, especially in the early days. I found myself working or on call, every day and night for months in a row, helping to cover the gaps and wondering whether I could get to the other side—back to normal.

Encourage parents, immediate family members, and caregivers to vaccinate against COVID-19. Vaccination reduces the risk of household transmission, providing indirect protection to vulnerable infants. Emphasize the importance of hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and regular disinfection of frequently touched surfaces within the home. These measures can help reduce the risk of exposure to the virus. Make sure parents seek guidance from their providers on these issues.

Mitchell, Age 55-64
From California

Up until recently I had worked in respiratory care at the same large University Hospital for over 10 years. COVID-19 made our jobs more critical and we had to care for more patients with the same number of respiratory therapists we had pre-COVID-19. As COVID-19 patients arrived, we could tell which ones were unlikely to make it based on the way their oxygen support needs went up. It was overwhelming to not have time to connect with a patient's family and to care for so many at one time. We had to reuse PPE which put us all at risk and we carried that risk home to our families. There were days that I was the strongest mentally on my team, and so I became the terminal extubator. Room by room, I held up an iPad for the patient's family to say their last goodbye as they watched their loved one take their last breath.

The isolation was hard. Our families got tired of listening to day after day of death and loss, so we bottled it up. We faced severe depression and PTSD. Many of us turned to unhealthy outlets like alcohol, food, or smoking, and usual outlets like the gym were closed. This went on for months and we still haven't processed the trauma.

Be mindful that COVID-19 impacted everyone differently and there are many still dealing with trauma and loss. Stay home if you're sick and be respectful of those with weakened immunity.

Lauren, Age 25-34
From Maryland