His interactions with COVID patients, many of whom are African American, often leave him stunned. She recalled a recent exchange with a 40-year-old woman who was struggling to breathe. When Dr. Chopra asked if she had been vaccinated, the woman gasped, nodded her head and insisted that the vaccine was more harmful than the virus. Later the patient died.
“It leaves me angry, frustrated and sad,” Dr. Chopra said. “These unbelievers will never accept our point of view, and the result is that they are putting others at risk and taking a toll on the health care system.”
The emotional repercussions of the past 16 months take many forms, including early retirement and suicide among health care providers. Dr. Mark Rosenberg, an emergency room doctor St. Joseph’s University Medical Center In Patterson, NJ, a predominantly working class, immigrant community that was hit hard by the pandemic, sees its toll all around.
She recently found comforting a fellow doctor who blamed herself for infecting her in-laws. They died four days apart. “He just can’t get out of guilt,” Dr. Rosenberg said.
Two weeks ago at a bachelor party for hospital residents – the emergency department’s first social gathering in nearly two years – the DJ readied the room and decided not to play any music, Dr. Rosenberg said. “People in my department usually love to dance but everyone just wanted to talk, hold and hug.”
Dr. Rosenberg, who is also president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, is recovering for his loss. Among them his friend, Dr. Lorna Breena, who took his own life in the first months of the pandemic and whose death prompted the Federal law which seeks to address suicide and burnout among healthcare professionals.
Most of the pain is unintentional or unintentional. Dr. Rosenberg compared the hidden trauma his father, a World War II veteran, experienced after the end of hostilities.