Nurses not necessarily ‘getting a break’ as coronavirus case numbers decline

In many places, the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care has been dropping. But, that does not make a nurse’s job any easier, according to the American Nurses Association (ANA).

ANA and the American Nurses Foundation have partnered with other organizations to develop the Well Being Initiative that offers nurses numbers of virtual support systems and a digital tool kit for the near and long-term.

The resources provided aim to help nurses build resilience and manage the stress caused by treating patients with the coronavirus.

Kendra McMillan, ANA senior policy adviser for nursing practice and work environment, said nurses have responded to the crisis with an initial adrenaline rush that kept them charged and going — followed by exhaustion, fatigue and burnout.

“We are still very much working in a crisis state,” McMillan said. “To say globally ‘Yes, nurses are getting a break,’ — I think it’s too soon to say that.”

In addition to the stress and fear of trying to protect yourself and your family from exposure to the virus, McMillan said there’s the trauma of what you’re seeing every day.

“But then you have the stress and the burden and the trauma from caring for patients that are dying every day,” McMillan said.

In COVID-19 units, nurses are often the sole person in the room holding the hand of someone who’s dying.

They are also the ones who set up a video conference so patients can say their last words, or hear family members one more time.

“There’s long-term trauma as a result of that,” McMillan said.

She wants nurses to know it is OK to reach out for help and talk about how they’re doing.

“Help is needed now; help is going to be needed six months from now; help is going to be needed years from now as nurses begin to really process what it is that they’ve been through on the front lines of this pandemic,” McMillan said.

People can donate to the Coronavirus Response Fund for Nurses online or by texting “THANKS” to 20222.


More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.


Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up