Coronavirus burnout

Published April 17, 2021, 12:29 AM

by Rj Nieto


RJ Nieto
RJ Nieto

Over a year has passed since the first lockdown, and we’ve all been struggling to cope with this dystopian world. By the end of 2020, some thought the pandemic has become manageable as the government clocked just a thousand or so daily cases, then here came the variants that made the virus deadlier and fiercer than before.

The government somehow tightened rules in response to daily cases consistently breaching the 10,000 mark in late March. And while the new lockdown isn’t as strict as the one last year, I think you’ll agree that any sane person will voluntarily choose to stay at home to avoid getting sick.

And when I say sick, I don’t mean just COVID-19. When I say sick, I mean any kind of sick.

Hospitals are filled to the brim as the second major wave hit us. Sure, the government is creating more and more hospital beds to accommodate the rising number of patients, but the fact remains that no amount of construction can create new doctors and new nurses in just a few months.

Our healthcare workers are exhausted. Some are even getting sick because of it. I know this for a fact because I got to know hundreds of doctors all over the country during last year’s #PPEniTP Project, where I partnered with the Filipino-Chinese Community to give free PPEs to hospitals at a time when PPEs were really hard to find. I chat with these doctors up to now.

While it’s true that the Health Department is slow in procuring PPEs, I cannot fully blame the government for the lack of healthcare personnel.

We now have free tertiary public education and I applaud the Duterte government for pushing for it, but it takes over a decade to train a doctor and about half the time to train a nurse. Thus, there’s really no way to address the skilled labor shortage except with hiring unemployed nurses from the general population. And truth be told, getting a new job in the public healthcare system is not exactly the most enticing thing right now.

I am a regular citizen just like most of you. And like most of you, I am also suffering from coronavirus burnout. Like most of you, I am already sick and tired of this pandemic. But one message from these doctors, messages that tell me of their daily struggles, is enough to keep me sane, because the cross I’m bearing is nothing compared to theirs.

To the doctors, nurses, medical technologists, radiologists, orderlies, and everyone else who wake up each day and bravely face the horrors of this pandemic, thank you very much for your service. Things could’ve been easier for you if you just chose to take a break, but you didn’t. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Because truth be told, medical frontliners are the most important Filipinos right now. We all recognize that, and I apologize for not being able to acknowledge that fact often enough.

Please be more patient with us Filipinos. We know we’re hard-headed, but we try to follow your advice as much as we can.

I know you’re tired. You’re exhausted. You’re afraid of what’s to come. But thank you for showing up for work anyway.

If I can only do what you are doing, I would’ve already did. But I can’t. I am not educated enough. I do not have your expertise. I cannot do what you’re doing, but I’ll try my best to find a way to ease your burden.

I am seriously at my wit’s end, and I am afraid like many others. The pandemic is hitting closer and closer to home. A few months ago, we hear of a friend of a friend who got sick. But now, immediate family and close friends are also testing positive. The situation is becoming more and more terrifying.

But it’s not like we have any choice over the matter, and the only logical thing to do is to help.

The Filipino-Chinese Community has been very magnanimous during last year’s #PPEniTP Project, so I’ll try to contact them again and see if we can find a way to restart our earnest endeavor. I still have some money left in my life savings, so I guess I’ll just use it to pay for delivery costs.

I may not be making much sense now, but I just want to let you know that I think about you every day. I don’t know if that project will make a difference, but I think that the earnest PPE packages that we send could at least remind you guys that we are grateful for what you do.

We sincerely are.

Maraming Salamat po sa inyong lahat. Maraming, maraming salamat.

For comments and reactions, please email [email protected] or visit