After COVID-19, who will save the health care workers who saved so many of us?

Lynne Adkins
April 06, 2020 - 3:43 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Medical professionals battling to save the lives of others during the coronavirus pandemic now need help themselves — and they may need even more when this is over.

This is the heroism stage, when doctors and nurses are raring to take on the crisis with a problem-solving mentality. Health care professionals are working around the clock under terrible conditions, and stress levels are high. 

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Dr. Jody Foster, chair of psychiatry at Pennsylvania Hospital, says the next phase is harder to handle.

"What occurs afterward, as this drags on and people get sicker and we lose more colleagues and patients and families, disillusionment and dysphoria set in and increases in anxiety and a number of symptoms," Foster said.

She says after the emergency passes, health care workers will need help dealing with anxiety, depression and symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. 

"The thing about stress and anxiety is that it is a personal and idiosyncratic experience. You and I may experience or observe the same event or trauma, and one of us may dust ourself off and walk away, and the other one of us may experience full blown PTSD symptoms."

She says because each of us deals with situations differently, it's hard to determine now exactly what help will be needed in the future.

She says Penn Medicine is working to support the health care workers with blogs, mindfulness assistance, meals and child and senior care help. And they are making plans to add assistance that will be needed when this pandemic ends.