'No gas left in the tank': Health-care workers share stories of abuse, feelings of burnout
The fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to negatively impact health-care workers as many face verbal and physical abuse from patients.
After seeing a record-shattering number of patients, Alberta's hospitals now have 419 COVID-19 patients, including 76 in intensive care units.
While hospitalizations in the province have gradually decreased after peaking in early fall, the seven-day rolling average of total patients admitted remains at approximately 444.
Dr. Neeja Bakshi, internal medicine and COVID-19 unit physician, says the plateau in admissions still means a high workload for medical staff. Workers are experiencing burnout and abuse from patients.
"I don't feel like I've gotten off this train for 21 months," Bakshi said. "The whole feeling of the hospital has changed."
Bakshi shared how she has experienced verbal abuse, has been spat on, and even had things thrown at her by patients.
"I feel like it's gotten worse," Bakshi said. "I feel like I can't walk into a patients' room at this point and expect gratitude or politeness.
"There are moments when I'm scared to go in the room because I'm not sure what I'm going to encounter," she added. "There's only so much backlash that you can hear before you start to feel like, why am I doing this?"
"There's no gas left in the tank, and they (staff) don't know where to go or who to turn to anymore," added Tim Bouwsema, a registered psychiatric nurse.
Bouwsema says a growing number of colleagues are turning to him or employee assistance programs.
"We laugh, we make jokes sometimes after the fact to try to cope," he said. "But these things, they leave a mark."
Both health-care professionals said it is not just the COVID-19 deniers or unvaccinated taking out their frustration on health-care workers.
"The people who have been waiting for surgeries, and they've been cancelled three, four, five times, and they sometimes lash out at us," Bouwsema said.
Last month, the Canadian Medical Association called on the federal government to make this type of behaviour towards medical staff a criminal offence.
The pair of Alberta health-care workers say many colleagues are now reassessing their career.
"We're going to get to a point where we have skeleton crews everywhere, which is not the way a health-care system can survive," Bakshi said. "I would argue that we're not surviving now. We're just barely getting by."
"There were already signs of an exodus of physicians leaving the province," she added. "People are re-evaluating their lives. They're re-evaluating, number one, do I still want to be a doctor? Is there a better or different place where I'm not going to be burned out?"
While they applauded Alberta Health Services' (AHS) efforts to deal with hostile patients, they hope to see more mental health supports.
In a statement to CTV News, AHS says it is committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment for all employees and volunteers. Workers can receive support through the crisis management team or the Employee and Family Assistance Program.
"We've recently seen an increase in the number of AHS staff accessing our mental health supports and online learning opportunities to support their mental health and well-being," AHS said in a statement.
"As an organization, we are exploring and always trying to find ways to improve our resources and supports in place to ensure our staff get the right resources to support and promote mental health throughout the pandemic."
Edmonton Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
The majority of Canadians either support or somewhat support a new health contribution or fine applied to those who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19, according to a new survey by Nanos Research.
Truck drivers protesting against the vaccine mandate at the border have raised more than $3.7 million from donors around the world but the fundraising platform GoFundMe has temporarily stopped organizers from using the money.
According to a December survey on employee mental health, the top thing that Canadians are looking for from their employers is full flexibility in being able to step away from work if they have a personal emergency, with almost a third of Canadians saying this is a priority.
Groups representing Canada's paramedics are calling for improved mental health services as staff shortages and unprecedented call volumes fuelled by the pandemic and the overdose crisis take a toll on workers.
A Connecticut man has been arrested and lost his job after video surfaced of him yelling at employees of a smoothie shop Saturday, where he claimed his son received a drink with peanut butter, causing a severe allergic reaction sending him to the hospital.
The official spokesman for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan won’t be apologizing for the Canadian soldiers killed in Kandahar, Zabihullah Mujahid told CTV National News London Bureau Chief Paul Workman in Kabul, Afghanistan. 'They shouldn’t have come,' he said, in an exclusive interview.
Millions of dollars have been raised in support of truckers protesting a vaccine mandate, a majority of Canadians say they may support fines for the unvaccinated, and Keith Yandle is set to break one of the most difficult NHL records. Here's what you need to know today.
A spokesperson for the Taliban is adamant that reports circulating about widespread hunger and human rights violations against women in Afghanistan are not true and that the Taliban government is working to correct its perceived shortcomings on the international stage.
As other countries begin to withdraw embassy and diplomatic staff from Ukraine over heightened concerns of a Russian invasion, Canada is suggesting any non-essential Canadians should leave.
Alberta reported more than 8,500 weekend COVID-19 cases on Monday evening.
A Calgary man who admitted to murdering his former girlfriend but denied killing her daughter has been found guilty of killing the young girl.
Alberta unveiled a 10-point plan Monday to deal with unprecedented stress on the provincial EMS system.
More Saskatoon Blades games will have to be rescheduled as COVID continues to impact the Western Hockey League (WHL).
An anti-vaccine mandate protest convoy rolled through Saskatoon on Monday.
Saskatoon's Ukrainian community is closely watching the conflict brewing along the country's border with Russia.
Officials consider patient transfers to rural areas as Sask. COVID-19 hospitalizations reach highest count since October
As of Monday, 262 people with COVID-19 were in hospital, which is the highest count since Oct. 27.
Sylvester Ukabam, a former Regina doctor charged with seven counts of sexual assault against former patients, took the stand on Monday morning to kick off the third week of the trial.
A convoy of trucks protesting the federal government’s cross-border travel vaccine mandate is expected to roll through Regina on Monday evening.
Nova Scotia reported five new deaths related to COVID-19 Monday.
New Brunswick’s education and early childhood development minister is hopeful students will return to in-person learning on Monday, Jan. 31 but public health will have the final say later this week.
Prince Edward Island announced two new deaths related to COVID-19 Monday, involving two people between the ages of 60 and 79.
An Ontario man who missed his oil change is now on the hook for a $19,000 engine replacement despite the vehicle being under warranty.
A video posted on social media by an Ontario police officer, who says she feels people are at war for their freedoms, is being looked into by a regional police force.
This week, as Ontario records its 1 millionth confirmed case of COVID-19, a senior researcher into the 2003 SARS outbreak says recommendations made to blunt the impact of a future pandemic were not followed.
Quebec will launch pop-up clinics and a phone line to reach unvaccinated citizens in an effort to increase first vaccinations in regions where rates are lowest.
Quebecers will have to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter big-box stores with a surface area of more than 1,500 square metres, except for grocery stores or pharmacies.
Frustrated with the lack of data around COVID-19 cases in Quebec schools, one English board has taken matters into its own hands. A citizen website is getting teachers to leak air-quality results; meanwhile, the province says schools are under control, but some parents have helped out.
The province began releasing school-by-school absentee rates amongst staff and students on Monday. But the absences also include non-COVID-19 related reasons.
Truckers from across Canada are heading to the nation’s capital to protest a mid-January mandate which requires drivers returning from the United States who are not fully vaccinated to quarantine.
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | Your blood could save this Arnprior 8-year-old boy's life
Easton Harris was recently diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a rare blood disorder.
A body has been discovered at the scene of a Esther Avenue house fire in Cambridge on Monday.
Experts find nearly half of Canadians are feeling frustrated, anxious and fatigued amid the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Region of Waterloo is reporting five new deaths related to COVID-19 in Monday's dashboard update.
Tim Hortons is releasing a limited edition doughnut Jan. 28-30 with all proceeds supporting Special Olympics Canada and its athletes.
Science North in Sudbury is getting $500,000 in federal funding to promote vaccinations. The project is called 'Give Vaccines a Shot!' and it’s targeted at audiences of all ages.
There's a new young mayor in the region and at 22, he is of Canada's youngest. Frederic Diebel has been appointed to the vacant seat after the township's last mayor resigned.
Wedding season is a few months away and some Winnipeg couples could be out of a caterer and their deposit. Caitlin Turcotte and Mark Ribeiro are one of those couples.
Tensions in eastern Europe remain high over the threat of a Russian invasion in Ukraine. The situation is hitting close to home for many members of the Ukrainian community in Manitoba, who are keeping a close eye on developments overseas.
A Florida man charged for his role in a human-smuggling scheme that turned deadly at the Canada-U. S. border will be allowed to go home to await trial.
British Columbia recorded another 24 deaths related to COVID-19 over the weekend, as the number of test-positive patients in hospital neared 1,000.
Now that B.C. health officials have dramatically limited who can be tested for COVID-19, wastewater surveillance has become the most important indicator of how many people are infected with the virus.
Police in Vancouver say they're investigating an alarming, unprovoked stabbing that sent one person to hospital with life-threatening injuries over the weekend.
Police are on the lookout for a 36-year-old man and his seven-year-old daughter who were reported missing to the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP on Sunday.
No deaths related to COVID-19 were reported in Island Health over the weekend, though 24 deaths were confirmed across the province over the past 72 hours.
The Colwood Medical Treatment Centre announced it will shut down its walk-in clinic on April 15.