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Healthcare workers facing both the physical and emotional tolls of the pandemic

Posted at 7:17 PM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 19:17:26-05

RUSSELL COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — As hospitalizations rise, the pandemic is taking a toll on some health care workers.

Russell County nurse Emily Ragle has been in the business since 1994, but the coronavirus is making a job she loves harder to enjoy.

“I still love [nursing], but things have changed drastically since COVID,” said Ragle.

The emotional toll of the coronavirus is felt by patients and healthcare workers alike, according to Ragle.

“I think the worst thing is seeing somebody come in that you think is okay. Then maybe in ten hours, they’re not okay. Then maybe in ten more hours, they’re not here,” she said.

In a recent survey by Mental Health America, 86% of healthcare workers reported experiencing anxiety and 75% reported feeling overwhelmed since the pandemic began. The research surveyed 1,119 healthcare workers.

Ragle told LEX 18 when the pandemic first began, Russell County’s hospitals saw some COVID-19 cases. In recent weeks, the county’s 25-bed hospital has filled with patients and the work is non-stop.

“You don’t stop all night long and there aren’t a lot of breaks in between. It really wears on you but at the same time, you have to take care of these patients. That’s what we went into it for,” Ragle said.

Ragle told LEX 18 she tries to distance herself from what goes on at work once she gets home, but as cases grow, it’s getting harder to do.

“I’m pretty laid back and easy-going, but the last couple of weeks it’s kind of gotten to me,” she said. “When you are in a room and you know somebody is not going to make it and their family is not there, it’s really hard to walk out of that room.”

With cases surging and hospital beds running low across the nation, Ragle is asking Kentuckians to do their part against the virus.

“This is not a joke. This is really bad, and people really need to take it seriously,” she said. “I want people to know this is real. Just be aware that a mask does make a difference. Just think about the people around you.”