In a Reuters report, Miami health care professionals in area hospitals are struggling with the physical and emotional toll of dealing with an increase in COVID-19 cases. According to the story, many health care workers on the frontlines are frustrated as the numbers of coronavirus cases continue to rise.
They are frustrated by the inability of federal, state, and local governments to coordinate a response to the pandemic. They are also frustrated by the disregard of many Floridians to follow safety guidelines to stop the spread of the virus.
Miami doctors expressed their concerns. Dr. Eric Knott, who works in three of Miami’s largest hospitals, stated that his work is for nothing if we cannot stop the spread of the virus.
Another doctor compared the virus to a hurricane. A hurricane is a finite amount, whereas the virus is infinite.
Nurses, Doctors & Other Medical Staff Under Immense Stress
Dealing with a high number of patients and the emotional trauma of watching so many patients die takes its toll on health care providers. Physically, it takes a lot of energy and time to tend to ICU patients. ICU patients must be monitored closely, which requires a lot of effort by staff members.
Turning an ICU patient can take up to six staff members to ensure that life support systems are not compromised. ICU patients must be turned often to prevent other complications from lying in one position too long.
Watching co-workers become ill is another emotional toll.
A critical care nurse recalls that he has never had to worry about co-workers dying or put another nurse on life-support in his ten years of medicine. At Jackson Memorial Hospital, employees have had to stay home because they are sick, or they have been hospitalized. The result is the hospital calling in hundreds of additional workers.
For many patients, health care workers are the only people they see who can provide care and comfort. When a person is dying, it is a health care worker holding that person’s hand to provide comfort. The toll is overwhelming.
One nurse had to be helped off a hospital floor after she had a breakdown.
Martha Baker, a registered nurse and president of Union 1991, which represents over 5,000 medical professionals within the Jackson Health System in Miami, is concerned they are going to be stretched too thin. She stated when that happens, that is when patients die. Baker said that if we don’t find a way to slow the virus, they are just chasing their tails as they fight a war against the virus.
Florida’s COVID-19 Rates Continue to Increase
In May, Governor Ron DeSantis declared victory over the coronavirus. He claimed that people did not want to recognize the success Florida had in fighting the virus. Instead, Gov. DeSantis said that people in the media had spent weeks saying that Florida would be just like New York.
The Governor’s approach to the pandemic did not follow other states. Florida did not shut down, initiate mandatory masks, or follow other CDC guidelines for stopping the spread of the virus. It took a different approach.
For some time, the approach worked. For whatever reason, COVID-19 did not spread like wildfire throughout the state.
In May, the seven-day average for new coronavirus cases remained under 1,000 per day. However, by June, COVID-19 cases began to increase.
By July 15, the seven-day average was 1,775 new cases per day. By August 1, the seven-day average had soared to 9,360 new coronavirus cases per day in Florida.
According to the CDC, as of August 5, 2020, Florida has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the United States. The numbers are much higher than either New York or New York City. During the past seven days, Florida has reported 54,906 new COVID-19 cases, whereas New York reported just 4,652 new cases.
The numbers prove that the virus is unpredictable. A state can have low numbers for one month, but the numbers can skyrocket in the next month. Medical providers and health care professionals continue to sound the warning that we must increase our efforts to stop the spread of the virus.
How Can You Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19?
The Florida Health Department and the CDC have information on their websites about steps to prevent the spread of the virus. There is also information about what to do if you believe you may have COVID-19 and how to protect your family from contracting the virus.