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Joplin healthcare workers face mental health toll as Covid-19 cases remain high

JOPLIN, Mo. —After over a year and a half of fighting a pandemic, Joplin healthcare workers are in almost the same place that they started.

“A lot of our staff has kind of gotten to where this is a new normal which is really my concern for them,” said Rhonda Schmidt-O’Toole, director of Mercy Hospital’s emergency department.

After being faced with a new virus, having to adapt to new ways of treating patients, and dealing with more deaths than ever before, healthcare workers are exhausted, mentally and physically.

“None of us went to school are equipped with dying people on a daily basis, not having their family with them, using ipads and cell phones and things like that to communicate with them, I mean it is such an emotional toll to put on individuals that are also trying to continue to care for other patients,” Schmidt-O’Toole said.  

Mercy Hospital’s emergency department director says it’s getting hard for healthcare workers to feel fulfillment from their job as the Covid-19 death toll rises.

“We got into this wanting to make a difference, and it’s very hard because we’re seeing so many times that we cannot make a difference.  and that we throw everything we have at it, put long hours in working extra hard, and then we still see people that are dying I mean at such great levels.”

Which she says is not only physically exhausting but mentally as well.

“Everybody needs balance in their life, I think for the first year I mean vacation time went unused, nobody had a day off.”

To ease the strain on workers, mercy has brought in nurses from other areas to give their staff a break.

“I know we as an organization have worked really hard to bring in agency and mercy nurses to try to just have those people so that gives our staff some rest.”

Despite this, healthcare workers continue to feel the strain of the pandemic.

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