Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers are now more important than ever. Being the frontline defence against COVID-19, these individuals ensure that those who are inflicted with this virus have a fighting chance. Other low-wage and low-status workers in healthcare systems (personal support workers, cleaners, aids) are essential for keeping patients and institutionalized residents safe. However, not enough attention is put on healthcare workers themselves. As a direct consequence of this crisis, these individuals are facing both mental and physical obstacles because of their workplace environments. Despite being workers on the front-line of delivering life-saving care, the differential availability of personal protective equipment and resources has revealed a hierarchy of value assigned to the work (i.e. doctors vs. nurses vs. personal support workers); a hierarchy of value assigned to the workplace (i.e. hospitals vs. long-term care vs. in-home personal care); and a hierarchy of value based on the composition of the workforce (i.e. the contributions of doctors are often more widely recognized than those of nurses, which is a feminized and racialized workforce; nurses’ contributions, in turn, are more widely recognized than the work of PSWs, who are most likely to be racialized, immigrant women (Armstrong et al. 2020; Tungohan et al. 2015)). This sightline will form the foundation for analysis on Lessons Learned/Not Learned from SARS (Leung 2008).

Featured Resource

Camille Bains, CBC News: Essential workers during COVID-19 susceptible to 'moral injury' and PTSD, hospital says. (July 7, 2020).

Health-care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic are at risk of severe stress that could cause long-term psychological damage, the Centre of Excellence on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder says.

The centre at the Royal Ottawa Hospital has teamed up with the Phoenix Australia Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health to develop a guide for facilities including hospitals and peer-support organizations in an effort to reduce the impact on those susceptible to so-called moral injury, a type of PTSD.