New treatment assists doctors who are affected by moral injury in COVID-19 hospital wards

Local News

WASHINGTON, DC – The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t just hurting patients, but also healthcare providers who risk getting sick or are having to make life and death decisions about patients.

NewsChannel 34’s Alexandra Limon says that can lead to something called “moral injury”, and now one group wants to help with new resources for healthcare workers.

“Oh yea, it’s very scary” says Dr. Ron Elfenbein.

Health care workers treating COVID-19 patients around the country often worry about contracting the virus and exposing loved ones.

In addition to worrying about how to treat the growing number of patients, sometimes without enough resources.

“Ok I have one ventilator and three patients – who is getting the ventilator?” says Elfenbein.

Doctor Ron Elfenbein, an emergency room doctor, says the choices can take a toll.

“That’s a really hard thing to do. An you have to be able to sleep at night after making those decisions,” says Elfenbein.

Doctor Rita Brock with Volunteers of American says all of those challenges can lead to what’s called moral injury.

“Moral Injury is the way your soul gets tied up in knots when something happens to you that violates your core moral foundation,” says Brock.

Brock says the internal conflict can be harmful and lead to addictive behaviors.

“the accumulation of as many failures as this crisis pandemic has caused, can just wear at them to the point where they give up on themselves and the work they do and even sometimes on their own lives,” says Brock.

Dr. Brock says simply talking with others who have experienced the same challenges can help.

That’s why Volunteers of America launched a new program to help health care workers connect with others online anonymously if they want.

The program, called Rest, is like those proven to help combat veterans.

For more information you can visit Volunteers of America’s website.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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