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Health Care Workers Overwhelmed, Emotional Toll Of COVID-19 'Long-Lasting'

Justin Hicks
IPB News

Indiana health care workers say they’re no longer the front line of attack in the fight against COVID-19 – they’re the last line of defense as spread of the virus worsens.

Sarah Paturalski is the vice president of nursing at Memorial Hospital in South Bend. She said the pandemic – and its latest surge – has created the worst nursing shortages they’ve ever seen.

“There are patients that, unfortunately, we can’t meet their needs right now because we’re inundated," Paturalski said. "We have an abundance of patients – more than we can, quite frankly, handle right now.”

READ MORE: Hoosier Hospitals Bear Brunt Of COVID-19 Surge: 'It's About To Become A Catastrophe'

Paturalski said health care workers are also struggling with the numbers of deaths. She said while they’re used to dealing with death and dying, these levels are not what they’re used to.

“We’ve taken a vow for no one to die alone … and sometimes this means that we are their family members and we are holding their hands as they pass – when just moments before, we tried to save them,” Paturalski said.

Paturalski said the emotional toll created by the pandemic for everyone who works in health care will have long-lasting effects.

Contact reporter Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.