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Healthcare workers dealing with post-traumatic stress as Delta variant takes hold

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 6:25 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Pandemic trauma haunts health care workers, with the delta surge some local hospitals are seeing health professionals show symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

Registered Nurse at Northwest Texas Hospital, Dellani Spradling hasn’t had a good night sleep in a long time.

“I’m always waking up,” said Spradling. “Today I’ve been up since 2:30 a.m.”

Memories of those who lost the battle against COVID-19 are still in her mind.

“I see patient faces,” said Spradling.

She said reopening the medical backup ICUs was a struggles, because of one personal loss.

“I struggle with one specific patient that I lost, it affected me,” said Spradling with tears in her eyes. “You’re the only person there, saying ‘We’re going to take care of you, we have you’ and sometimes those were the last words that were said to them.”

Spradling is not the only one experiencing symptoms of PTSD. Earlier this year, Northwest Texas Hospital started the Second Victim’s Team to help front liners through the loss of a patient or any other traumatic experiences.

Since adding this resource, they’ve seen more workers reach out for help.

“They’re on edge, they’re having a hard time sleeping, they’re getting angrier, they find themselves anxious,” said Jeff Pugh, chaplain at Northwest Texas Healthcare System. “They feel defeated even before they walk into the door of the hospital. I had some of them tell they have nightmares, they’ve lost some of their passion.”

Pugh said the Delta surge has also been hard on the team as they experience secondary trauma.

“I have to bring my very best when they’re kind of at their worst time,” said Pugh.

Although some health care professionals were expecting another surge, this time around is different. Last year, the hope was for a vaccine to be developed and now that it is a reality, it has become a battle between the vaccinated and un-vaccinated.

“The first round we had quite a bit of support from the community. This round, we haven’t seen that support at all,” said Spradling.

NWTH is looking to have second victim’s team meetings on a regular basis, rather than as requested.

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