Frontline healthcare workers describe stress of coping with pandemic’s worsening third spike


DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Miami Valley hospitals are significantly affected by COVID-19 case numbers that continue to rise exponentially. Frontline workers say they see the surge happening and they feel it, adding it’s emotionally and physically draining, it’s infecting -even killing- colleagues, and it’s not stopping. 

Brian Brown is the Operations Manager at Spirit Medical Transport. Of his colleagues, he says, “They’re getting tired. Tired of every single call, every single time, making sure they put on every single piece of equipment.” 

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Brown says he’s transporting an average of five to seven COVID-19 patients every day, a significant increase in the past few weeks. “It’s a little bit scary sometimes if you happen upon a patient and find out later they were COVID-19 positive.” He describes the hospitals he takes patients to as busy. “Busy busy busy. Not enough help. Swarming.” 

Doctors say workforce burnout is very real and staff is exhausted. Hundreds of nurses and doctors are currently out because they’re quarantining. Dr. Richard Lofgren, the President & CEO of UC Health, says, “They’ve been working extra hours, they’re really stressed to make sure they can continue to provide the highest quality care for which they’ve been trained to do.” 

WATCH: Miami Valley hospitals are coping with the surge while preparing for the future:

Brown says he used to transfer patients to facilities that had larger COVID-19 units, but the hospitals are now tightening up during the third spike. “The spread is so rampant right now that it’s just much better to keep them in one spot rather than move them all over.” 

The surge now means it’s routine for an ambulance crew to have nothing but COVID-19 patients each day, and medical colleagues in the hospitals are struggling. Brown says, “Some days are tougher than others. The stress part of it is when our colleagues go out with the virus and we lose them for 10-14 days and lose their ability to help us.” 

Adding to the professional stress is the personal toll the virus is taking on so many healthcare workers. So far Brown has not contracted the virus but he’s close to it. A family member just tested positive again after fighting off the virus a few months ago.

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