Working 12-hour shifts as a nurse in the COVID-positive unit of a hospital in Philadelphia, Emma Grey, a UD Exercise Science alumna, writes in a recent article about the raw emotional toll that the pandemic is taking on our frontline medical heroes.

“What they don’t tell you about being a “hero” is that you’re even more socially isolated than before,” Grey writes. “In these moments of an uphill battle or loneliness, I’ve found myself faced with moments of rare, raw humanity.”

“These moments aren’t the feel-good ones that you see on John Krasinski’s “Some Good News.” These moments don’t make it to Tik-Tok, but they are just as important. Moments when you are holding up an iPad while a family looks at their parents, crying, knowing that they are saying their last “I love yous”, trying to get as many as possible in before the call is over…”

For the medical workers facing these harrowing realities on a daily basis, it is emotionally exhausting.

“It’s become one of those types of tiredness that simply can only be fixed by a massive hug from your Mom or a cold beer with your best friend,” says Grey. “All you want to do is be with your family or friends or go somewhere you love. But, the reality is you can’t.”

Grey writes that “the icing on this pandemic cake is that everyone who you love and wants to see you, also really doesn’t want to see you. They miss you, but they don’t want to risk being around you. So you’re left out.”

There has been a lot of focus in the media on PPE for medical workers. And while certainly important, Grey speaks about another type of PPE needed for frontline workers beyond just physical protection – what she terms “emotional PPE.” 

“For me, I have found this type of “equipment” in my co-workers, my hospital’s resources, my family, and myself,” Grey writes. “I’ve said earlier that COVID had brought moments of raw, rare humanity, and I still see that with my co-workers. They can be described by every positive word known to humankind. They are the only in-person contact I see besides patients, and they are going through the same experiences as me. It feels good to share these experiences, knowing that I am not alone.”

Visit this page to read Grey’s full article, “Feelings from the Frontlines.” 



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