This guest post by Dr. John Kitsteiner, Medical Director-Emergency Department at Greeneville Community Hospital, is a powerful open letter to not only his team members but to all healthcare workers detailing the imperativeness of servant leadership and its importance during challenging times.
"Healthcare workers have had pay cuts, because volumes are down.
Hours have been cut, because volumes are down.
Hospitals are cutting nurse, radiology tech, lab tech, and phlebotomist hours, because volumes are down.
We can go hours with seeing only a few patients.
But then we will see fifteen patients in two hours… on our own… all with a lot less support than we used to have.
We are seeing fewer patients, but the patients we are seeing are sicker than normal.
The stress is higher.
We have to wear gloves and masks and face shields for every patient, and we have to get into full PPE for some.
Did we get exposed today? Did we bring COVID home to our kids yesterday?
Everyone at work has questions and fears about COVID… our patients, our nurses, our lab techs, our administration.
Everyone at home has questions and fears about COVID… our spouses, our children, our friends, our Facebook acquaintances.
Some are asking our opinion as medical experts. They are hanging on our every word. Their fear is heightened or lessened with our response.
Others are doubting everything we say, because this has political and social ramifications, and they have preconceived doubts and skepticism and they watch YouTube and read blogs.
Everyone who knows me, knows that I am pretty much a perpetual optimist. Nothing ever really gets me down.
But I am worn out.
I am tired of answering so many versions of the same question.
I am tired of having my knowledge and motives unreasonably challenged.
I am tired of having to read through so many emails to make sure I don’t miss a vital update to protocol.
I am tired of needing to go in the house through the back entrance so I can do an immediate scrub down in the shower and put my clothes in the wash before I hug my kids and wife.
And my ears are sore from this mask.
I am not burned out, but I am close.
I know that if I am feeling it, others probably are too.
We are probably going to have to change the schedule multiple times before this is done.
We are probably going to have some really busy and chaotic days before this is done.
We are probably going to have more frustrations before this is done.
Hang in there.
This will not last forever.
This is not the new normal.
This is a season, and it will pass.
I don’t enjoy this at all.
But this is what we are here for.
This is why we chose medicine.
This is what we do.
And I am so glad you are on my team.
Please take care of yourselves.
Let me know if you need anything."