This is a podcast series accounting for the parallel pandemics of COVID-19 and clinician burnout, while introducing the story of one undocumented patient who helped to reveal the authentic feelings and values of his healthcare team.
EPISODE 1 - WE’RE AT A BREAKING POINT
The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched hospital resources and staffing to their breaking point. Even before the pandemic hit, there were vulnerabilities, but the pandemic has exposed them. Fifteen months after the first COVID patients began filling hospital beds, frontline healthcare clinicians were showing increased signs of exhaustion and compassion fatigue – symptoms of burnout. At that time, an undocumented, COVID-positive man was transferred to the Wellstar Kennestone Intensive Care Unit. It quickly became evident that there was something special about this patient.
EPISODE 2 - YOU BECOME FAMILY FOR GOD’S SAKE
During the third wave of COVID-19, frontline clinicians are struggling to manage the accumulation of stress of the prior 15 months and keep burnout at bay. Whereas their initial efforts to protect the community were met with enthusiasm, many of those shows of support have waned. Vaccinations bring an element of hope but also new tensions. Meanwhile, inside hospital ICUs, patients are younger, usually unvaccinated, and sicker than ever before. After months of caring for intubated and unresponsive patients, the Wellstar Kennestone ICU team begins caring for Carlos, an unvaccinated man who is "wide awake." Through his charisma, Carlos begins lifting the spirits of the caregivers.
EPISODE 3 - THIS ISN’T WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR
With restrictions on visitations due to the high COVID-19 infection rates, hospitals look for creative ways to connect patients with their family members. Despite the innovation, frontline clinicians have often found themselves struggling with the realities of the pandemic – communicating virtually with families and sitting at the bedside holding the hands of dying patients. Despite his dependency on ECMO, Carlos makes daily progress over a 3-week stretch and surpasses the expectations of the Kennestone team. His determination and fighting spirit are reciprocated by a team in desperate need of hope.
EPISODE 4 - YO QUIERO VIVIR
Following Independence Day 2021, COVID infectivity rates surge again, once again increasing the demand for ECMO machines and staffing resources. With optimism on the decline, Carlos continues to demonstrate his desire to live – exhibiting the fight and determination that the Kennestone ICU team has come to know so well. Nonetheless, his condition has deteriorated, and the team recognizes the need to consult the Ethics service. Difficult conversations are made even more challenging in light of the strong emotional attachments between Carlos and his caregivers.
My spouse has been on the front lines of Covid. So grateful for this podcast to put the human-side of the struggle into the forefront as both a healing vehicle for clinicians, to validate their experiences, and to show the world how caring, compassionate and engaged healthcare workers have been toward every patient during these most difficult years. Can’t wait for more.
No punches pulled on a topic that demands attention
Thank you for “telling it like it is.” I’m excited to see the story continue in Episode 2.
What an awesome summary of the care and compassion exhibited by our healthcare workers day after day! True heroes that show up and give 110% in spite of their feelings of being burnt out! I salute you!