I find there have been almost equal changes to daily life both in and out of the hospital. Every shift, we are updated on policy changes, supplies/PPE status, COVID cases in the hospital/COVD mortalities/discharges, and availability of ECMO/CVVH/vents, etc. We have shut our doors to visitors in almost all circumstances and have only recently started to reopen floors like ortho that were changed to COVID units over the last two weeks.
In life outside the hospital, in the early days of COVID, I noticed an immense amount of support from the community and people in my circles. I was getting unexpected gifts, tons of texts/calls/social media messages just asking how I was holding up, and seeing the community putting up signs and posters or even sales for frontline workers. It made me feel like an imposter in a lot of ways, honestly... I did not feel like I deserved that, as we were just continuing to do our jobs. Lately, that overwhelming support has settled down in many ways, as the community generally feels that COVID may soon be over (which does make me nervous).
I continue to lean most closely on my peers. I find that, because we experience the same or similar things, we can relate and empathize with each other easily. We all have an incredible sense of teamwork and we support each other fiercely every shift. It feels like this pandemic has made my unit into a tight-knit crew that could get through anything together.
Burnout is real through this - my peers and I are exhausted by the constant changes, feeling unsafe because of mask/gown/bleach wipe shortages, and feeling like we aren’t able to do everything we could at times. We have periods of short staffing because our peers contracted COVID, or they are immunocompromised and unable to care for certain patients. I am navigating burnout by trying to completely disconnect from work on my days off. My coworkers are generally respectful of each other’s time off and do not call or text about work situations. Just calling a friend or loved one outside of healthcare and delving into their life for a conversation helps me feel like the whole world isn’t engulfed in work.
Resilience has come from trusting my peers; that we are all in this as a team and we can continue to do good for our patients with the help of one another. Our manager and supervisors continually check in and offer whatever they can, if it might help us. I can’t imagine trying to bounce back and continue to do my job without the support and trust I have in my coworkers.