Healthcare workers report surge in post traumatic stress

Experts concerned about impending mental health crisis
Healthcare workers report surge in post traumatic stress
Healthcare workers report surge in post traumatic stress
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 5:39 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Even with an end to the pandemic in sight, health care and frontline workers feel like they’re experiencing a mental health crisis. Norm Shirk, the head of pastoral care at SwedishAmerican, is concerned about his employees.

“Our staff get connected to our patients and their families after they’ve been here for a long time.. and then when they have the unfortunate outcome of dying .. it’s a grief not just to the family but also to the staff -- when it’s happened repeatedly it has a huge impact on their ability to bounce back.”

Shirk says that his health system offers a variety of services to employees who are struggling, including confidential counseling sessions. “We take care of each other that way by circling through and making sure people have an opportunity to express their own heartbreak and not just that of the patient and the family,” Shirk tells 23 News.

Kevin Polky, the head of KP Counseling in Rockford, says he’s seen a surge in patients at his practice -- most are exhibiting symptoms of post traumatic stress. Many counseling services across the Stateline say that they’ve seen such a dramatic increase in referrals that they aren’t accepting new patients.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, you can find more information at If you need emergency assistance, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

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