TAMPA, Fla. - Tampa General Hospital employees are giving us an inside look at the battle against the coronavirus from the front lines, and the toll this pandemic is taking on Bay Area healthcare workers.
The hospital started a Facebook video series back in September called "The COVID Chronicles," which shows what is really happening inside the COVID unit and is filmed by the teams providing critical care.
The third video in the series was posted this week.
“I looked into the faces of some of my nurses and they all had that, 'Oh crap, here we go again,' look in their eyes,” COVID ICU Nurse Manager Suzie Dorner said in the video.
Coronavirus is spreading rapidly through Tampa -- and Florida -- and hospital beds are filling up.
Statewide, there are more than 923,000 cases, but on the floors of TGH, they take it one patient at a time.
“I wish everyone understood how bad this disease was, but they don’t,” said Elizabeth Herzog, COVID IVU Nurse. “Until they live it, and then it’s just horrifying, and the mental anguish that everyone’s going through, I’m tired.”
Follow the "TGH COVD Chronicles" on Facebook
It has been nine months of a non-stop fight against an invisible enemy, a disheartening reality for workers who put in long shifts all hours of the day.
“It’s tough, mentally, physically it’s exhausting,” shared COVID ICU Nurse Justin Andzel.
Mental health professionals warn this constant stress can lead to low morale and burnout.
“They’re more irritable, their mood goes down, they might not want to go into work, we might see behavioral callouts,” said psychologist Dr. Nick Joyce. “Because they do not want to go into work because their body is literally shutting down from prolonged exposure to this stress.”
The marathon is far from over and if cases continue to surge hospitals may need to bring in more nurses to lighten the load.
“There’s not just the concern of, 'Am I overworked?' but then there’s things like fear and anxiety about... if I go to work and I’m treating somebody with it and I then bring it home,” explained University of South Florida Health associate professor of psychiatry Dr. Ryan Wagoner.
Until cases go down, or the number of employees is temporarily increased, the teams at TGH are tackling it together.
“I think what gets you through it is the teamwork. When you’re in there you’re working very close with these people and you rely on them, you rely on them emotionally, you rely on them physically sometimes,” said tespiratory therapist Diane Ribelin.
For workers like these, or anyone feeling stress and anxiety, experts recommend talking to a counselor. They also say you should carve out time to take care of yourself by doing the things you enjoy, and making them a priority.