Oklahoma healthcare workers burned out, in need of support

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Experts in the medical field say Oklahoma’s healthcare workers are under an incredible amount of stress and are at risk of experiencing burnout, depression and PTSD.

“I’ve heard from so many of my former students who have graduated who are struggling with depression, with PTSD because we have only so many resources. When this is over, we’re gonna look at how we can care for the caregivers because there’s gonna be a lot of mental health issues,” said Robin McMurry, a professor of nursing at Oklahoma City Community College.  

Dr. George Monks, with the State Medical Association, says statewide, hospitals were already experiencing a shortage of nurses and physicians before COVID-19 darkened the hallways of hospitals.  

“It’s put a real stress, a real burden on our entire healthcare system,” said Monks.  

Monks says with the increases in patients and lack of resources, the strain on frontline fighters is only growing.  

“There’s just not a pool of nurses or physicians we can bring in to bail us out,” said Monks.  

The International Council of Nurses is warning that a mass traumatization of nurses is occurring and if this trend continues, the world will see a shortfall of more than 13 million nurses by 2030.  

Monks says hospitals are innovating, but the need is critical.  

“They’ve done a tremendous job picking up extra shifts, working longer hours to try and pick up the slack, but that takes a toll, especially an emotional toll when you see so much death and patients,” he said.  

Near the beginning of the pandemic, Oklahomans rallied around frontline fighters, lighting up hospital parking lots, providing food and showering nurses with encouragement.

Lately, that effort seems to have slowed or stopped completely.

“Just telling them thank you goes a really long ways. Our physicians, our nurses, they’re fighting this battle every single day and we can’t forget them right now,” said Monks.  

The State Medical Association is providing free counseling to any physician in need and encourages healthcare workers to prioritize their self care.  

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