▶️ St. Charles helping staff focus on mental health amid COVID crisis

By ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY

Healthcare providers have been working tirelessly working to save others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You are sometimes trying to suppress the feelings of, ‘This is kind of terrifying, and this is scary, and I pray that I don’t get this, and I pray that I don’t bring it home to my family,” said RN Rebecca Fleming.

Fleming has been commuting from Bend to Klamath Falls during the COVID-19 outbreak to help in the community’s emergency room.

 “The last time I went down I worked six shifts in a row,” Fleming said. “So I did three 12-hour shifts at the end of one week and then three 12-hour shifts at the beginning of the next week.”

And the job, while an important one, can take an emotional toll on those on the frontlines.

“It affects how you sleep, it affects how you think throughout the day,” she said. “I have two little kids at home and as sad as it sounds they came running after I’d just finished working my six shifts and we wouldn’t let them give me a hug, we told them they had to wait to see mommy. So it’s so important that you mentally you take care of yourself because it basically it will occupy your mind at all times if you allow it.”

Fleming says she’s turned to exercise to take care of her mental health.

St. Charles Healthcare has also been working to provide mental health resources to its staff, including implementing a COVID hotline for caregivers needing to speak with someone.

 “When they come, our caregivers are present, they’re here for our patients, they’re here for each other, and when they can take care of themselves and be able to be fully present that makes all the difference,” said Rebecca Berry, Vice President of Human Resources for St. Charles.

They’ve also expanded other assistance programs.

“We’ve put together a resource page, how do you get meals delivered to your home? How are ways to get grocery delivery?” Berry said. “We created a pantry, meaning that caregivers who are working and need just those daily essentials, they can buy them before they leave work to try to help them.”

Fleming has a message for her fellow healthcare providers who are doing their best in an unprecedented situation.

“You’re amazing, you’re a superhero, you’re doing what most people would run from,” Fleming said. “Stay strong,  take care of yourself, and know that you’re not in it alone.”

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