(Beaver Dam) Local health care professionals are making sacrifices every day to care for those infected with coronavirus but are becoming increasingly discouraged by support from the community. That’s the message from Marshfield Medical Center Beaver Dam Chief Administrative Officer Angelia Foster, who shared her concerns with us about staff burnout Tuesday on WBEV’s Community Comment.
Foster says COVID patients are a different kind of patient than is typically encountered in rural healthcare, with greater needs. The situation requires full PPE for hours on end for staff who are exhausted but committed to doing what is best for patients.
“They are caring for their friends and their family, they are looking after their kids soccer coach,” she says, “they are taking care of people they know, who are really sick, sometimes recovering and sometimes not. That is taxing on a staff who are very talented, but it is still emotionally draining.”
Foster says it is increasingly disheartening for health care workers to risk their lives every day – covered in uncomfortable personal protective equipment for an entire shift or a double shift – only to stop at a gas station after work to find people refusing to take simple measures that reduce the spread of coronavirus.
“People are saying ‘thank you for all you are doing’ but they are saying it without a mask on,” she says noting that her staff feels safer at work surrounded by coronavirus patients than stopping for milk on the way home.
“We’re not getting the same buy-in from the community on how to prevent the spread,” she laments.
Marshfield Medical Center Beaver Dam has been at around 90-percent capacity for the past several weeks as staffing numbers dwindle. Foster says on any given day, 20-to-25-percent of staff is unable to work because they are either COVID-positive or quarantining because of close contact with an infected person. Burnout among health care workers is increasing.
“Across the country you are seeing a shortage and I am very concerned that the lack of support from the community will create a moment where some of the staff make the decision to leave,” she says, “so I do worry that we will have huge turnover issues in the next year.”
In the 24 hours prior to our interview Tuesday, she received three resignations. Foster says staff is working harder, working double shifts and taking on more responsibility to care for the community.
“And I need our community to step up and take care of them,” she says.
In addition to wearing a mask, Foster urges the community to practice social distancing, wash their hands, and avoid large gatherings.
Watch Marshfield Medical Center Beaver Dam Chief Administrative Officer Angelia Foster on WBEV’s Community Comment: