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Virtual mental health help for nurses at the front line of COVID-19 pandemic

Getting the help they need while fighting the coronavirus on the frontlines.

Starting Tuesday tailored help is coming for our doctors and nurses coping with everything they’ve seen and heard during the pandemic.

“For the first two weeks I probably saw more deaths in patients than in my whole nursing career,” said Gina Willaford, a Lee County nurse in New York City.

WINK News spoke to Willaford a month ago shortly after she landed in New York. She felt it was necessary for her to go, because as a nurse, she says you have to answer that call for help.

Even though these last few weeks have not been easy on her, she hasn’t lost her positive attitude.

“The level of the intensity of this virus and the passing of people and the numbers, it was nothing I had expected,” said Willaford.

She will be headed back home on Saturday but says she still has some concerns.

“I have not dealt with how it’ll feel afterward because I’m still here in it. We truly don’t know how to deal with these things ourselves,” said Willaford.

The transition back is easier for some. Jonathan is a Nurse Anaesthetist who returned from New York City two weeks ago. He said he tries to separate the two worlds when he leaves the hospital.

“When you get off the airplane at RSW and you’re walking back to your normal world again it’s kind of like oh, okay wow you kind of had to take your mind and isolate the worlds from each other,” said Jonathan.

He’s already coped with the transition of 12-hour shifts to self-isolation. One thing these nurses know is that a little help can go a long way.

“It’s a very delicate balancing act to make sure people can reserve good functioning now while they’re trying to take care of people,” said Dr. Emily Ptaszek, CEO of Healthcare Network.

That’s why Dr. Emily Ptaszek wants to open the door to conversations about coping.

“I think we will see PTSD and other anxiety disorders and depression really skyrocket,” said Ptaszek.

Sometimes it can be hard to ask for help—that’s why the healthcare network is allowing healthcare workers to remain anonymous.

The first session on Tuesday will discuss initial reactions to the crisis. If you would like to take part visit the Healthcare Network “For the Frontline” webpage here.

Reporter:Janae Muchmore
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