A difficult return to normal for health professionals

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FRANCIS… it’s not as difficult as before (Photos: Naphtali Junior)

Healthcare workers have admitted that as the country returns to normality, they are struggling to return to their usual routines due to insomnia and difficulties balancing personal care and their work.

Health professionals shared their experiences during the Jamaica Observers Monday Exchange last week, before the start of the Department of Health and Wellness’ observation of the ongoing health care worker appreciation month.

They said that at the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, their workload escalated, resulting in other areas of their lives being neglected.

“Some of us used to do 24 hour duty, but what I hear, and I believe it’s true because I’m also experiencing it, is that we can’t sleep. We we are used to being on our feet, so it is more difficult to fall asleep”, explains Mitchelle Maylor-Archat, coordinator of medical technical services.

MAYLOR-ARCHAT… there’s this sleep deficit among us.

“People get up at 1 a.m., 2 a.m. and when it’s going to be 3 a.m. that’s the time you want to sleep, and the truth is you’re going to try to fall asleep but it doesn’t come some of them my staff members and I find this very disturbing and I think the Department of Health is going to have a lot of work to do in terms of mental health in health care “, she added.

“Everything that used to work for them doesn’t work anymore, so there’s this sleep deficit among us. To say we’re back to normal, it’s going to be a new normal, it won’t be the same. We’re not just anybody. where near that… working regular hours,” she said.

Associate clinical psychologist Keisha Bowla-Hines said that while there were other issues during the pandemic, “COVID-19 was stronger.”

BOWLA-HINES… now that the pandemic is a little better understood, other issues that were normally there have now regained prominence (Photos: Naphtali Junior)

“It was stronger, it smelled different, it tasted different, it was different, and so all of the attention and resources were focused on the COVID-19 issues,” she said.

“Now that the pandemic is a little better understood, other issues that were normally there have now regained prominence,” she said.

“As a psychologist, all that could really happen to me is for there to be a shift in focus from issues related to COVID-19 to other issues that concern my patients and clients. In reality , it’s just about continuing to provide support as needed to every client and patient that I see,” she said.

At the same time, Dr Susan Strachan Johnson said answering phone calls was getting exhausting. So these days she has to put her phone away to make room for family time.

STRACHAN JOHNSON…I would have auditory hallucinations that the phone was ringing

“Since the start of the pandemic, I went from working five days a week to seven days a week, 24 hours a day, taking calls on that dreaded CUG (closed user group) phone. I would be hallucinating hearing that the phone was ringing. It was ringing so much, and if I put it on silent and forgot, I would run and look at the phone to see if someone was calling me. It was really bad,” explained the Dr Strachan Johnson, Acting Chief Medical Officer at Kingston and St Andrew’s Health Service.

“The first step for me now is that after certain hours of the night I have to put it away a bit so I can interact with my family. It’s a new normal. What’s hard is trying to do everything integrate, because the expectation is that you have to do everything and do it effectively and efficiently,” she said.

However, nurse Sophia Francis, who works at National Chest Hospital, said she had little difficulty returning to a normal work routine.

“Patient care is what we do, so it’s not hard to get back to the norm because that’s what we do on a daily basis; it’s just not as difficult than before, it’s easier now,” she said.

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