The National President of Nigeria Association of Clinical Psychologists (NACP), Prof. Helen Osinowo, asserted that health workers lack supportive social network at the peak of the Coronavirus Pandemic. This was revealed at the Webinar Series organised by the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) recently.
The webinar, which was held in collaboration with the Employee Assistance Programme of Nigeria,
focussed on effects of COVID-19 on the psychosocial state of health workers in the hospital. The event aimed at addressing the challenges faced by medical professionals.
According to her, “health workers within the context of COVID-19, as in the frontline during the fight against the pandemic, suffered psychosomatic and social problems including fever, cough, weakness, cutaneous manifestation and skin damage owing to prolonged PPE usage, high level of depression, anxiety, insomnia and so on.
She added that this category of healthcare workers doesn’t have a supportive social network to fall back on as they might also expose their loved ones to the virus because of their job. She encouraged that organizations should create enabling environment of trust, psychological safety and empowerment to enable individual workers to communicate patient safety concern to managers.
While recounting his experience at First Cardiology, Dr. Yemi Johnson described handling COVID-19 patients as challenging, stressing that it is easier to work as a team than working as individuals. “We first asked them if they want to work. We asked them to work as volunteer. We all came out with scars’’, he said.
Also, the staff of the hospital who worked as volunteers recounted their ordeal: “we prayed, we fasted, we were depressed at deaths of our patients, we were scared of what COVID did to normal lung, we often breakdown in tears, and it’s emotionally exhausting.”
The Consultant Psychiatrist at Northampton, United Kingdom, Dr. Femi Oluwatayo said it is challenging in the United Kingdom as they are currently experiencing the second wave of the pandemic, and a lot of deaths have been recorded which causes distress at workplace and can transform to mental disorders.
In the concluding presentation, Dr. Bolanle Odulate, a Certified Employee Assistance Professional, advocated for wellbeing of mental state of health workers by creating an avenue to talk to someone about what they are passing through. By ensuring that employees are in good mind frame. She added that the only asset any organization can have is the employee.
The Chief Medical Director of LASUTH, Prof. Adetokunbo O. Fabamwo said the Management of LASUTH is committed to doing all it can to ensure the wellbeing of employees. He expressed his happiness about the collaboration between LASUTH and EAPAN for this great initiative.