PORTLAND, OR (KPTV)- Oregon set another record Friday, the Oregon Health Authority reporting 1,306 new cases of COVID-19.
"I don't have any hopes it's going to slow down. I wish that were the case, but we're starting our surge planning and surge implementation already," Erin Boni said.
Case numbers, hospitalizations and the death toll in Oregon continue to rise. For many, it seems like there's no end in sight. So, how are frontline workers coping with the devastation they see firsthand?
Erin Boni is an ICU nurse at OHSU and has been for 10 years. She said this year has taken such a toll on her and her colleagues. She predicts a lot of nurses will leave this field after the pandemic.
As many say they're beginning to feel COVID fatigue and want things to go back to normal, frontline workers are feeling even worse.
"Everybody's tired. Everybody is feeling this sense of isolation and I see a lot of people wanting to resist this new normal," Boni said. "The anxiety is so rampant. It's so hard to manage that."
Boni said it's truly devastating when she and her colleagues have patients who don't get to see their families before they die.
"I have worked with people who come into the hospital and only get to interact with their family members on the phone or via a creek for months before they die, and that is... it's tragic," Boni said, choking up. "We're trying to get them through this, and when that doesn't work out and you know you have been, that you and your colleagues have been the only physical support for that patient for the last six weeks of their life? It is. It just doesn't feel good."
So, how do frontline workers attempt to manage the trauma they're dealing with?
"Don't fight your feelings. Give yourself permission to feel angry or sad or confused," Brian Pilecki, a clinical psychologist with Portland Psychotherapy, said.
Pilecki said everyone handles stress differently but offered some advice for nurses and doctors:
"Everyone has their go-to's. Sleeping, reading, socializing, but we can forget what they are when we're really stressed out," Pilecki said. "If you're not sure what to do, I always recommend a mindfulness app like Headspace or Calm. They offer free apps that provide just 5 minutes of meditation that can make a really big difference."
Boni had this to say to people ahead of the holidays:
"I think of the holidays as a time where we like to reflect, come together and be grateful and think about ways we can give back to our communities. But just following guidelines and making these small sacrifices that aren't fun, I get that, but if you can do that now, you're living those values," Boni said.
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