Humanity in healthcare in the time of Coronavirus
By Liliane de Vries
In this moment, it feels nearly impossible to identify a single aspect of life that remains untouched by the Coronavirus – especially for healthcare providers. Extended shifts, dwindling supplies, and fearful and frustrated patients are creating a chain a dominos ready to topple over at any second. Even when protective equipment is available, medical professionals are left uncomfortably cramped into stiff suits and masks.
This is why, now more than ever, health professionals require the recognition and support that they deserve.
With fears growing more prevalent by the day, the psychological toll pressed on medical staff continues to swell. However, China’s medical care professionals are already taking steps toward improving the mental state of workers.
The Second Xiangya Hospital – along with the Institute of Mental Health, the Medical Psychology Research Center of the Second Xiangya Hospital, and the Chinese Medical and Psychological Disease Clinical Medicine Research Center – modelled a comprehensive plan to relieve healthcare providers.
The plan comprises of three pillars of psychological support, including:
✔A psychological intervention medical team offering online courses for prevailing concerns
✔A psychological hotline team to provide additional help through supervised assistance
✔ Psychological interventions that incorporate group activities to create a sense of community
Despite best efforts, challenges still arose, as some health staff displayed hesitance to accept help, and in some cases, rejected assistance outright. Some nurses with visible signs of irritability, unrest, and mental strain refrained from using these psychological resources, expressing doubts if they were even necessary.
What staff had to say
Staff communicated that looming fears of scarcity in protective supplies, as well as the feeling of powerlessness to care for critically ill patients, fueled stress and anxiety. To improve psychological states and effectiveness, caregivers requested longer stretches of rest and adequate protective equipment. Further, they emphasized the importance of training to address patients’ psychological needs, including mental health staff for patient support.
As Canada and its health professionals brace for impact, we must understand that providing the most effective care always includes compassion for both staff and patients. Further, mental health must be placed at the forefront to ensure that staff are properly prepared and rested to adapt quickly to any new development.
Although infectious outbreaks seem unavoidable, acknowledging the intimate connection between physical and psychological health positions providers to expect the unexpected and adapt to the unprecedented.