Pandemic healthcare workers ask, ‘Why do I put my life on the line?’

Trauma haunts those who work with victims of COVID-19. Many have witnessed hundreds of deaths.


National News

March 19, 2021 - 5:04 PM

Dr. Brittany Bankhead-Kendall scrubs her arms and hands at Texas Tech University Medical Center. Nationwide, doctors and other health professionals have been called on to work double duty during the pandemic. Photo by (Courtesy of Dr. Brittany Bankhead-Kendall)

Brittany Bankhead-­Kendall, 34, was a newly minted surgeon when the COVID-19 pandemic began. At first, like thousands of other health care professionals, she worked tirelessly in crisis mode.

But by last fall, she was experiencing random and repeated physiological symptoms, including a racing heart and dimmed vision. She diagnosed herself as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The worst of the pandemic may be behind the country. But for front-line health workers such as Bankhead-Kendall, the psychological scars from the chaos and uncertainty they’ve lived through, and the suffering and death they’ve witnessed, may take much longer to heal.

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