More than a year after being hailed as heroes with nightly applause from windows and balconies, health care workers on the front lines against COVID-19 are now being provided panic buttons in case of violence and abandoning their scrubs before venturing out in public for fear of harassment. 

Across the country, doctors and nurses face animosity, threats, and violence from patients who are upset about safety standards designed to keep the plague at bay.  “A year ago, we’re health care heroes and everybody’s clapping for us,” said Dr. Stu Coffman, a Dallas-based emergency room jobs physician. “And now we’re being in some areas harassed and disbelieved and ridiculed for what we’re trying to do, which is just depressing and frustrating.” 

A representative for Cox Medical Center Branson in Missouri revealed that panic buttons were distributed to up to 400 nurses and other personnel after the number of assaults per year increased between 2019 and 2020 to 123. After an attack, one nurse had to have her shoulder X-rayed. 

Hospital spokeswoman Brandei Clifton said the pandemic had driven at least some of the increase. “So many nurses say, ‘It’s just part of the job,‘” Clifton said. “It’s not part of the job.” 

The number of public entrances at some hospitals has been limited. Nurses in Idaho stated they are afraid to go to the grocery store unless they have changed out of their scrubs to avoid being confronted by furious residents. 

According to hospital spokeswoman Caiti Bobbitt, doctors and nurses at a Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, hospital have been accused of killing patients by mourning family members who do not believe COVID-19 is real. Others have been the target of malicious rumors circulated by those enraged by the pandemic.  “Our health care workers are almost feeling like Vietnam veterans, scared to go into the community after a shift,” Bobbitt said.  A person hurled an unidentified substance at a nurse working at a mobile immunization clinic in suburban Denver over Labor Day weekend. Another individual in a pickup truck ran over and damaged signage placed around the clinic’s tent. 

 “It’s just another added pressure on health workers who have already been experiencing a lot of stress,” said Dr. James Lawler, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center jobs in Omaha, where some doctors have received online threats. 

People in the United States have been behaving negatively against one another in various ways due to the COVID-19 situation. Several people have been killed in shootings over masks in supermarkets jobs and other public areas. Shouting matches and scuffles have broken out at school board meetings. Earlier this month, a riot broke out at a New York City restaurant over the establishment’s request that patrons provide proof of immunization. 

Dr. Chris Sampson, an emergency room physician in Columbia, Missouri, said violence has always been a problem in the emergency department, but the situation has gotten worse in recent months. Sampson said he had been pushed up against a wall and seen nurses kicked. 

 In Helena, Montana, Dr. Ashley Coggins of St. Peter’s Health Regional Medical Center said she recently asked a patient whether he wanted to be vaccinated.  “He said, ‘F, no,’ and I didn’t ask further because I don’t want to get yelled at,” Coggins said. “You know, this is a weird time in our world, and the respect that we used to have for each other, the respect that people used to have for caregivers and physicians and nurses — it’s not always there and it makes this job way harder.” 

 Coggins said the patient told her that he “wanted to strangle President Biden” for pushing for vaccinations, prompting her to change the subject. She said security guards are now in charge of enforcing mask rules for hospital visitors so that nurses no longer have to be the ones to tell people to leave. 

 The hostility is making an already stressful job harder. Many places are suffering severe staffing shortages, in part because nurses have become burned out and quit. 

 Source: Williamsport Sun-Gazette