Burnout reaches new levels for Sask. health-care workers: psychiatrist
As the province moves to ease pressure on hospitals through patient transfers and federal help, healthcare workers say they're experiencing a new level of burnout.
Tamara Hinz, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, says moral distress has evolved over the last two years.
"For the first several months a lot of us were running on fear and adrenaline and those gas tanks are empty now,” Hinz said.
According to Hinz, those empty tanks are leading to chronic stress and constant fatigue for healthcare workers. She says rationing care and planning for life or death decisions is taking its toll on many staff.
While medical professionals are trained to deal with bad outcomes, Hinz says nothing prepared them for this.
"The magnitude and the frequency and the severity of all of those bad outcomes has really just been ratcheted up"
As of Friday morning, 117 people were in Saskatchewan ICUs.
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) says an overwhelmed critical care system is leading to burnout across the country.
"It is much worse in provinces like Saskatchewan where healthcare providers feel gas-lighted, lied to by government and not as if their concerns are being taken seriously,” said CMA president Dr. Katharine Smart.
In the summer, physicians penned a letter to government calling for greater restrictions.
In mid-September, the province reintroduced the mask mandate while announcing proof of vaccination requirements. Premier Scott Moe has since said the government should have brought those measures in two weeks sooner.
"I worry about how people are going to get through this time and who's going to leave,” said NDP leader Ryan Meili.
“We can't spare any of these doctors or any of these nurses, and yet people are going to be so burnt out they're not going to want to continue to practice."
The Saskatchewan Health Authority and Saskatchewan Medical Association are offering resources for workers, including a peer support program.
Hinz says it's encouraging to see supports, but it shouldn't have come to this.
“That moral distress and that burnout would certainly be a lot easier to prevent in the first place than trying to treat it,” she said.