Lambton public health nurse says unrelenting pandemic exhausting

Lambton Public Health on Exmouth Street in Sarnia. 27 April 2020. ( photo by Colin Gowdy)

More than a year after it began, the pandemic is at its worst and healthcare workers on the frontlines are struggling to cope with unrelenting pressure.

Katie Thrasher is a public health nurse in Lambton County.

She told Sue Storr on CHOK’s (103.9 FM, 1070 AM) Behind the Mask segment Friday, that she’s on-call 24-7.

“I can say for the first time I feel burned out in my career,” said Thrasher. “It’s really hard to be on-call all the time, it depends on the number of cases, if we have a really bad weekend and we need more staff, then we all get called in. I do a lot of that on-call work and I’m happy to do it, I’m happy to be able to help out but it’s exhausting and it takes time and memories away from my time with my kids.”

Thrasher said the pandemic has been hard on her two children.

“I honestly think that this has changed their life more than mine. In my eyes they’ve had to grow up so quickly. They’ve used resiliency that I think they never even knew they had.”

With the pandemic raging on in Ontario, the province is pleading with other provinces to send nurses and other health workers. The Ontario government said it’s short thousands of nurses.

Thrasher, a public health nurse for 15 years, said the seemingly unending pandemic is taking a toll on frontline workers.

“We’ve talked to people who have lost loved ones, we’ve spoken to people before they’ve passed. It’s really difficult when that happens to come home and leave that at the door. So there are days I can’t, I do cry and I do get angry and frustrated.”

On a positive note, Thrasher recalled administering her first vaccine dose, saying it was wonderful.

“it’s hope, that’s what it is for all of us,” she said.

Here’s the full Behind the Mask interview with Katie Thrasher.