US – Fears of a wave of resignations among health professionals – Receiving threats from conspiracy theorists

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Gone are the days when doctors received applause on the balconies. At least in the US, where health professionals are facing a new pandemic: that of patients corona who do not trust the healing methods they apply for their salvation.

Jack Lyons is one of the American doctors and nurses who are faced with the launch of new cases brought by Omicron.

Now, some patients do not listen to his recommendations – or even threaten him, because they disagree with the treatment regimen.

They order… treatments

“Some people act as if they can come to the hospital and ask for any treatment they want or instead reject any treatment they want, believing that they can choose and direct their own treatment. “But things do not work out that way,” Lyons told CNN.

As the highly contagious Omicron variant, which has already become a dominant strain in the country, launches cases, a new wave of misinformation about the pandemic and vaccines could emerge that could hasten its end.

From baseless conspiracy theories claiming that vaccines contain… chips or altering human DNA, to deliberate lies about vaccine deaths and… mask side effects, the misinformation industry is booming.

Lawsuits and threats

This dangerous false news has also led to a wave of lawsuits against hospitals, which require treatments whose effectiveness has not been proven – such as ivermectin treatment. Health professionals say they are becoming increasingly hostile to patients and their families.

“They are attacking your intelligence, your abilities, and the most painful thing is that they say that when you refuse to use these treatments, you are deliberately trying to harm people for whose salvation you have done everything,” Lyons told CNN.

About 70% of ICU patients suffer from coronavirus – and the vast majority are unvaccinated.

Ivermectin is used to treat pests such as worms and lice in humans, and is also given by veterinarians to deworm large animals. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued warnings of a rapid increase in reports of drug poisoning.

They threaten their lives

“The most difficult experience we have had is when a patient’s family used a pseudonym to threaten the hospital,” Lyons recalled. “We were told to make sure the hospital was locked and that people were coming to attack us.”

“I’m not sure how else one could deal with someone telling him he was going to invade the hospital – it was a threat to our lives,” he added.

Lyons knows that the people he meets experience the worst moments of their lives. As an intensivist, both he and his colleagues have been experiencing the aggression of patients and their loved ones who are in a desperate state for years.

But the coronavirus has made these discussions even more difficult, especially now that so many of its patients are unvaccinated, suspicious and in need of alternative therapies because of the misinformation.

“These are people who support their loved ones who are in mechanical support. “And I have immense compassion for them,” he says.

However, he feels that they themselves have fallen victim to the false news, but also to some doctors who promote treatments without a scientific basis – with ivermectin being the most popular.

“I have no respect for these people – for charlatans and snake oil sellers,” he said. “They are trading in hope and trying to exploit desperate families who would do anything to bring their loved ones home.”

Anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress

Health professionals are so exhausted that they sometimes even need encouragement to leave their cars and go to work, according to Barbara Chapman, a nurse at the University of Texas at Tyler.

“They are like veterans returning from the war. “They may not be fighting anymore, but they have not yet escaped the war.”

Last summer, Chapman participated in the creation of a psychological support line for educators and health professionals.

The rates are staggering: more than one in five have experienced anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder during the pandemic, according to a survey published in March.

“It’s painful, we’re exhausted”

Doctors and nurses across the country hoped that the advent of vaccines would translate into a more immediate end to the pandemic.

Instead, misinformation kept large portions of people away from vaccination centers, keeping herd immunity away.

“We want to help people. “But now people are not being vaccinated, they do not believe us,” said Chapman. “They question our education and our knowledge. It’s painful, we are exhausted, we are tired and now we are also morally injured “.

An anatomist who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity said: “Can you imagine what would happen if a dentist had to fight as much for brushing his teeth as we did for the coronavirus vaccine? “There would not be a single dentist left.”

More than 69,700 coronavirus patients were hospitalized in the United States on Wednesday – a number that continues to rise, according to official figures.

Last week, the daily average of coronavirus deaths was 1,324, up 11% from the previous week, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Fears of mass resignations

At the beginning of the pandemic, health professionals were willing to make every sacrifice to save lives in the midst of a pandemic that changed the world.

Many rented apartments to live away from their families and close to their patients. Citizens thanked them for their work from the balconies and planned parades in their honor. They were forced to re-use their personal protective equipment, cancel their vacations and work overtime for employers who were not always interested in their safety in private US hospitals.

Now, however, with vaccines available to all, many fear that health professionals, who feel that their work is not valued and constantly face threats, will at some point reach the limits of their endurance.

A study by the American Medical Association examined the relationship between “coronavirus-related stress and the work goals of American health professionals” and stressed that the country may be facing a “wave of resignations” in the health sector.

The study specifically found that one in five doctors and two in five nurses plan to leave the industry within the next two years.

Even Lyons, who has worked at the same hospital since the beginning of the pandemic, says it is becoming increasingly difficult for him to think optimistically:

“Many times, it breaks my heart. It is often heartbreaking. “We are doing everything we can to keep our hopes alive,” he told CNN. “But as the months go by and we feel more and more exhausted and more and more colleagues leave the profession, every day becomes more and more difficult.”

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