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Counselors work to help hospital staffs overwhelmed and understaffed during record COVID surge

A Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare licensed clinical social worker said nurses & doctors are burnt out, stressed, & unsure when COVID patient peaks will be reversed.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Behind the scenes, we are learning new details on the growing toll taken on by understaffed and overwhelmed local hospital teams in this intense COVID-19 surge.

With new COVID patient records set this week, the frontline medical heroes with Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare are working longer hours and treating younger and sicker patients.

That's why on-site counselors are providing support and coping mechanisms between grueling shifts.

Licensed clinical social worker Allison White is one of them.

"Some people are questioning why they came into this field," White said. "You know, we are hearing, just a lot of burnout. They fear, how long is this going to last? Can I do this for the next three months, six months?"

White said during these challenging times, the staff admits to her the current pressure is unprecedented.

"For people who have been doing this, especially for a long time, they've never seen anything like this. They never had to deal with this kind of level of stress and burnout and seeing sick people and death," White said.

To combat that burnout, White suggested coping tips for medical teams and the general public. That includes downloading meditation and breathing apps on your phone, exercising, shutting off toxic social media, and embracing down time.

"Self-care is reconnecting with your family and friends. Self-care is resting when you need to rest. Let's not do a DIY project on your day off," White said.

Such stress relief is especially important for staff comforting those COVID patients struggling with final breaths and without any family by their side.

"Not only do they have to be the nurses or you know, take on their roles, but they're also having to be these emotional support people for these patients who are really scared. And that can really take a toll on a person," White said.

MLH also offers staff with a spiritual care helpline for adults and pediatrics, where employees can speak to a chaplain.

The Living Well Network in the Methodist system also allows the public to connect with behavioral health provider.

That can be accessed by calling (901) 762-8558 or by going to https://www.methodisthealth.org/the-living-well-network/.