Missouri hospitals work to prevent COVID-19 burnout for their nurses, doctors

ST. LOUIS, MO (KMOV) -- It’s been a constant wall of pressure nurses and doctors in the St. Louis region have been mining their way through for months.

“It’s hard to maintain your physical wellbeing when you are just emotionally spent,” said Kathy Bonser. She's the Regional Chief Nursing Officer with SSM.

Top medical professionals said they’re working to prevent employees from experiencing COVID-19 burnout.

“The physical stress is one thing but, it’s really the emotional stress of watching patients and families go through everything they’re going through,” said Betty Jo Rocchio.

Rocchio with Mercy says physicians and nurses are battling an overwhelming number of cases, high capacity levels within the hospitals, mental stress of providing a high level of care, along with coping with coworkers who’ve contracted the virus.

According to the National Nurse United Report, 1,700 healthcare workers have died of COVID-19.

“The difference here is really the length of time in dealing with this type of pandemic,” Rocchio said.

Bonser says she felt the fatigue in August.

“I really just hit the wall mentally, I’m reaching for any sort of support that I could find,” said Bonser.

Both hospital partners say they’ve created programs providing one-on-one services with mental health professionals. SSM says they’re also offering holistic rooms for meditation. And Mercy’s leaders have provided access to an app, allowing for peer-on-peer connections.

“That’s really helped our physicians, they are feeling the effects of this as well,” said Rocchio.

Both Mercy and SSM say they’re looking for long term mental health solutions to make sure their staff is adequately equipped mentally to handle the stress.

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