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The New York Times

The coronavirus patient, a 75-year-old man, was dying. No family member was allowed in the room with him, only a young nurse.In full protective gear, she dimmed the lights and put on quiet music. She freshened his pillows, dabbed his lips with moistened swabs, held his hand, spoke softly to him. He wasn’t even her patient, but everyone else was slammed.Finally, she held an iPad close to him so he could see the face and hear the voice of a grief-stricken relative Skyping from the hospital corridor.After the man died, the nurse found a secluded hallway and wept.A few days later, she shared her anguish in a private Facebook message to Dr. Heather Farley, who directs a comprehensive staff-support program at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware. “I’m not the kind of nurse that can act like I’m fine and that something sad didn’t just happen,” she wrote.Medical workers like the young nurse have been celebrated as heroes for their commitment to treating desperately ill coronavirus patients. But the heroes are hurting, badly. Even as applause to honor them swells nightly from city windows, and cookies and thank-you notes arrive at hospitals, the doctors, nurses and emergency responders on the front lines of a pandemic they cannot control are battling a crushing sense of inadequacy and anxiety.Every day they become more susceptible to post-traumatic stress, mental health experts say. And their psychological struggles could impede their ability to keep working with the intensity and focus their jobs require.Although the causes for the suicides last month of Dr. Lorna Breen, medical director of the emergency department at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, and John Mondello, a rookie New York emergency medical technician, are unknown, the tragedies served as a devastating wake-up call about the mental health of medical workers. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, their professions were pockmarked with burnout and even suicide.On Wednesday, the World Health Organization issued a report about the pandemic’s impact on mental health, highlighting health care workers as vulnerable. Recent studies of medical workers in China, Canada and Italy who treated COVID-19 patients found soaring rates of anxiety, depression and insomnia.To address the ballooning problem, therapists who specialize in treating trauma are offering free sessions to medical workers and emergency responders nationwide. New York City has joined with the Defense Department to train 1,000 counselors to address the combatlike stress. Rutgers Health/RWJ Barnabas Health, a New Jersey system, just adopted a “Check You, Check Two” initiative, urging staff to attend to their own needs and touch base with two colleagues daily.”Physicians are often very self-reliant and may not easily ask for help. In this time of crisis, with high workload and many uncertainties, this trait can add to the load that they carry internally,” said Dr. Chantal Brazeau, a psychiatrist at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.Even when new COVID-19 cases and deaths begin to ebb, as they have in some places, mental health experts say the psychological pain of medical workers is likely to

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