Doctors, nurses face ‘moral injury’ dilemma with COVID patients

Washington DC Bureau

Limited resources push new group to create support system

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Limited hospital resources have put countless doctors and nurses in a position where they are forced to pick and choose which COVID-19 patients receive lifesaving treatment.

The fallout from the tough decisions have lead to what some experts call “Moral Injury” — a condition that violates a person’s core moral foundation. Dr. Ron Elfenbein, an emergency room doctor, said the choices take a toll on healthcare workers.

“That’s a really hard thing to do,” Dr. Elfenbein said. “You have to be able to sleep at night after making those decisions.”

The faith-based nonprofit organization Volunteers of America has launched a new program aiming to help health care workers dealing with Moral Injury. Organizers said Resilience Strength Training (RST) is a way for workers to process the heavy, very emotional experiences that come with working the frontlines during the pandemic.

Volunteers of America’s Dr. Rita Brock said the internal conflict workers face can be harmful and likely will lead to addictive behaviors.

“The accumulation of as many failures as this crisis pandemic has caused can just wear at them to the point where they give up on themselves and the work they do and even sometimes on their own lives,” Dr. Brock said.

Visit the Volunteers of America’s site for more information on the RST program.

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