Wellness Wednesday: Mental health and COVID-19, how are nurses handling the latest surge?

Wellness Wednesday

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Cases of COVID-19 continue to climb, and if you think you have pandemic fatigue, ask a healthcare hero how they’re holding up.

For 18 months many of them have been battling wave after wave of COVID-19. Now, dealing with a summer surge unlike any variant they’ve seen before, fears and frustrations are growing.

“They can barely walk to the bathroom. Some can’t make it to the bathroom,” said Michele Trait, a Nurse Manager in one of the COVID units at St. Joseph’s Health.

Out of all the waves, Trait says the patients she’s seeing now are the sickest.

“The inpatients we’re seeing are not vaccinated. They’re very sick, they’re very short of breath, they’re surprised that they feel as ill as they feel.”

michele trait

By the time they’re inside the COVID unit, a vaccine won’t help them.

COVID Unit inside St. Joseph’s Health

Nurses like Trait are once again giving it their all, hoping to reconnect patients with their families.

“I do think that we all feel a little exhausted,” she said.

It’s a mix of emotions for Trait and some of her colleagues. In a nature-based field, their first instinct is empathy, but that feeling is being met with frustration.

Staff do feel a little bit of frustration of you know, it’s [the COVID-19 vaccine] been out there, it’s available. Patients are feeling regret that they didn’t make a different decision for themselves.

Michele Trait – Nurse Manager, St. Joseph’s Health

This time last year, many of the nurses were overwhelmed. Now, they know how to treat COVID, which eases some of their anxieties.

Still, concerns are growing over how long the summer surge will last and how full the COVID units could become.

“The delta variant is very transmissible so that’s the fear and the preparation that we’re trying to get ready for,” Trait said.

Physically, they’re preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

Mentally, Trait is leaning on her St. Joe’s family to keep her spirits high, including her daughter who also works at the hospital.

As she continues to treat an influx of patients, Trait is pleading with everyone to wear a mask and get vaccinated before it’s too late.

“You do not want to feel as sick as you will feel with COVID.”

michele trait

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