Stress from COVID surges creating “The Great Resignation” for health care workers

As of November 2021, 3.0% of health care workers quit the field; highest level this century

By now, we all probably know a person who caught the Omicron variant of COVID and spent the holidays in quarantine or in the hospital.
But the hospital remains open – even as more and more health care workers are quitting in the middle of the pandemic.

It’s being called “The Great Resignation.”

As of November of 2021, three percent of health care workers – doctors, nurses, aides and others – quit the job and got out of the field in the middle of a pandemic. That’s more than at any time this century.

Doctors are feeling the pressure, but it may be tougher on those dealing directly with the patients.

“Physically, and in terms of just trying to do our jobs, I think the nurses have the hardest brunt of this. But the patients don’t stop coming, and we took an oath to take care of them. So, we take care of them in hallways. We take care of them … I mean, we do what we have to do to take care of patients. But, people can only do that to a certain point, and I think you’re seeing a lot of people get to their breaking point,” said Dr. Jensen Hyde of Erlanger Hospital.

Yesterday, Hamilton County announced over a thousand new cases of COVID, a record-high. That number was double what it was just seven days prior. Hospitals, as well as their workers, are feeling a lot of that pressure.

Hyde: “When your cases triple, quadruple, go up by a factor of ten in the span of a few days, there’s only so much flex room that you have.”

While many of those who quit did so because they had younger kids to take care of while schools shut down due to the pandemic, there was a philosophical shift in patients that also made a difference, according to Dr. Hyde.

“We’re not used to being the enemy. And, to a lot of patients who come through our doors that are almost exclusively unvaccinated, a lot of them, unfortunately, got some very bad information, we’re the enemy. We’re lying to them. We’re not doing the treatment thing that they should be getting, and that’s a whole other level of stress.”

No one wants to hear that first responders and essential workers quit during the pandemic. While cases are undoubtedly going to rise over the next few weeks, it may not be a sign that we are regressing. The fact that less people are dying may show that Omicron might be the next step to weakening the virus and ending the pandemic for good.

Categories: Chattanooga, COVID-19, Featured, Hamilton County, Health, Local News