LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The name “Frontline Worker” has become the go to term when speaking about those working in hospitals, caring for those sick with COVID-19. For many, they work not only left them exposed to the virus first hand, they also were left dealing with with the mental affect of the virus.
Evangeline Eaton, Sparrow Hospital Oncology Nurse
For Sparrow Hospital Oncology Nurse Evangeline Eaton, she discribes her role during the pandemic, as mentally overwhelming, often reducing her to tears when she wasn’t on the clock.
“You could do everything in God’s world to try and take care of them and try and help them survive. And everything you did, it didn’t matter.” Says Eaton. “At the end of the day I think there were so many nurses that would leave… and they would cry.”
The hardest part of the job, being the sole provider of emotional support for those fighting the virus, because they didn’t have anyone else to be with them, as they fought for their life. For Eaton, that meant she became her patient’s family.
According to a survey by Mental Health America, 93% of frontline workers have experienced the feeling of being mentally overwhelmed, 77% percent say they’ve felt frustrated, and 86% say their work left feeling severely anxious.
Experts say, when it comes to dealing with the pandemic and mental health, those in the health care field need to view their work as a marathon, and not a sprint, it’s about looking at the bigger picture. It also helps to check in on one another. Something Eaton says she’s they’re doing.
“So when all of us were changing, and we were all in the locker room together, we would all kind of talk with each other. We could always sit down and cry with them. Because a lot of times we would leave work thinking, what could I have done to make that situation different, could I have done something better.”
For Nurse Manager Madi Bates, her staff went through everything described, leaving them on edge and frustrated, but it also left them closer together.
“We came together like we never have before.” Said Bates. “Everyone was here to check on us, they would send us little goodie baskets. to help just kind of keep our spirits up it was amazing.”
There’s another piece to the puzzle when it comes to providing care during an unprecedented time, in some cases, the work can take a toll on your personal life. Robert Sheehan, Chief Executive Officer for the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan says, that’s okay.
“My work is taking so much out of me, don’t expect to be at your full game in parenting, or your relationship, or in your hobbies, or if you’re in school on top of this. Give yourself a break on those things,” said Sheehan.
For Nurse Eaton, she’s focusing on her message of hope.
“I think we all did everything we could have done, with what we had, and the knowledge that we had”