Resources for medical professionals feeling the pressure

Posted at 5:50 AM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 08:54:13-04

PHOENIX — It's said being a healthcare worker is a calling. A calling that millions across the U.S. have answered as the country deals with a global health crisis.

Dr. John Delatorre is the Arizona Psychological Association's Disaster Resource Network chair. "We are looking at providing what we would call debriefing sessions for frontline workers, first responders, medical professionals, nursing professionals, everybody sort of the hospital setting," he says.

He adds that medical workers don't have to carry this burden of care on their own, but they often think they do.

"There are a lot of professionals who would probably say 'no,' they don't need it right now, they need to focus on the patients that they have," Dr. Delatorre comments.

Many hospitals are filled with patients and healthcare workers are experiencing things they don't realize are affecting them, according to Dr. Delatorre.

"We need to be there once they are finally able to pull themselves away from... their work and really truly process everything that's gone on," he recommends.

So what are Valley hospitals doing to help?

Banner Health officials say, "Several resources have been created or redirected to provide peace of mind and support" for employees. This includes things like daily check-ins with staff, numbers for group support discussions and self-care tips.

Dignity Health says they're offering counseling services, access to on-site chaplains and stress management tools.

Abrazo Health says they are sharing coping tips and material on dealing with stress and anxiety with employees.

"I think it's important for hospitals to say that this is available for their practitioners but I'm not surprised if they say not a lot of people are using it," Dr. Delatorre says.

According to mental health experts, it isn't just about having someone to turn to right now, it's about having resources there for the battle that still lies ahead.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we see an influx of PTSD diagnosable cases, particularly from those frontline workers, medical professionals, nursing and things like that," Dr. Delatorre warns.

Mental health resources are typically available through a healthcare provider but there are free resources as well.

The Maricopa Crisis Line can be reached at (800) 631-1314 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.