Parallel Pandemics

Parallel Pandemics

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the healthcare system, exposing supply chain and staffing deficiencies, changing the care delivery model, and impacting communication between patients, families, and their caregivers. Even prior to COVID-19, however, there were preexisting vulnerabilities within healthcare due to high rates of burnout among physicians, nurses, and other frontline healthcare clinicians. As the COVID-19 pandemic has persisted, the signs of clinician burnout have become evident, requiring many healthcare workers to find ways to emotionally detach from and cope with the realities inherent in their day-to-day work. This is a podcast series accounting for the parallel pandemics of COVID-19 and clinician burnout, while introducing the story of one undocumented patient who helped to reveal the authentic feelings and values of his healthcare team. With historically high mortality rates in the ICU and pervasive emotional and physical fatigue, this ICU team in Marietta, Georgia had the courage to hope and the commitment to care.


January 5, 2022 29 mins

The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched hospital resources and staffing to their breaking point. Even before the pandemic hit, there were vulnerabilities, but the pandemic has exposed them. Fifteen months after the first COVID patients began filling hospital beds, frontline healthcare clinicians were showing increased signs of exhaustion and compassion fatigue – symptoms of burnout. At that time, an undocumented, COVID-positive man was...

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During the third wave of COVID-19, frontline clinicians are struggling to manage the accumulation of stress of the prior 15 months and keep burnout at bay. Whereas their initial efforts to protect the community were met with enthusiasm, many of those shows of support have waned. Vaccinations bring an element of hope but also new tensions. Meanwhile, inside hospital ICUs, patients are younger, usually unvaccinated, and sicker than e...

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With restrictions on visitations due to the high COVID-19 infection rates, hospitals look for creative ways to connect patients with their family members. Despite the innovation, frontline clinicians have often found themselves struggling with the realities of the pandemic – communicating virtually with families and sitting at the bedside holding the hands of dying patients. Despite his dependency on ECMO, Carlos makes daily progre...

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April 22, 2022 31 mins

Following Independence Day 2021, COVID infectivity rates surge again, once again increasing the demand for ECMO machines and staffing resources. With optimism on the decline, Carlos continues to demonstrate his desire to live – exhibiting the fight and determination that the Kennestone ICU team has come to know so well. Nonetheless, his condition has deteriorated, and the team recognizes the need to consult the Ethics service. Diff...

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When Carlos was admitted to the Kennestone ICU in May 2021, the accumulation of stress and fatigue experienced by healthcare clinicians over the prior 18 months of COVID-19 had led to concerns that compassion was eroding on the frontlines. But seventy-plus days after he was transferred to Kennestone, Carlos’ care team continues to lean into adversity and ensure that he doesn’t face his illness alone. Carlos reciprocates their gifts...

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