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Pandemic taking a toll on health care workers

1 in 5 health care workers experience depression, anxiety or PTSD
Posted at 5:46 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 17:55:34-04

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, health care workers are still standing strong.

But an increased workload and fear for their own health are taking a toll.

Dr. Olayemi Osiyemi, an infectious disease specialist in West Palm Beach, says the pandemic continues to take a toll on his office.

"This is the busiest I've ever been through my career, but I had to stay strong for my staff," he said.

Healthcare workers around the world have been working long, strenuous hours, oftentimes seven days a week, saving lives while also exposing themselves to COVID-19.

"We do clinical trials, we do treatment for COVID and we have two people doing the work of four people here," Dr. Osiyemi said.

He said there's not enough nurses and doctors.

Many have retired or quit because of burnout and the stress brought on by the pandemic.

According to a global study done by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which surveyed more than 97,000 healthcare workers, researchers found one in five experienced depression, anxiety or PTSD since the pandemic began.

Quinn Hazellief is a nurse on the Treasure Coast who traveled to New York last year at the height of the pandemic to save lives, and then she tested positive for the virus.

"When I contracted it I was honestly absolutely terrified because I saw the worst-case scenario," she said.

Quinn is now studying to be a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist and says COVID-19 has been a mixture between exhausting and fulfilling.

"Even though I've already had the virus and been vaccinated, I still have anxiety about it," she said.

Seeing the stress, Osiyemi now finds ways to motivate, offer incentives, and show appreciation for his staff's hard work.

And the vaccines help make that light a little brighter at the end of a dark tunnel.

"For us, the stress hasn't slowed down any, but we know there's hope. We know the end is coming," he said.