CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – “I don’t know how we can do more than just thank them and love them and just absolutely appreciate them but boy they’ve done really great,” said Governor Jim Justice in his COVID-19 briefing today. “You know they deserve so much credit and that’s why we continue to pass those accolades on to them…”
But sometimes, accolades aren’t enough.
“Every day is a struggle,” said Anitra Ellis. “Waking up and making decisions and not bringing work home with you…”
Ellis is a nurse from Logan County.
“You’re working 12… 16 hour days… multiple days in a row,” said Luke Velickoff. “A lot of times working overtime to help staff units that have an increase in patient load due to the pandemic, and an increase in patient acuity.”
Velickoff is a nurse in Monongalia County.
These are just two of the thousands of nurses working on the frontlines in our state.
And they say the job is getting harder and harder.
“You’re working to not only help heal them physically… but also being there emotionally and spiritually as well… and doing all of that takes a lot out of you as a nurse,” said Velickoff.
“I think the biggest thing nurses are facing now are mental health issues,” said Ellis. “They can’t get away from COVID, whether they’re at work or at home, and that just takes a toll on you mentally.”
And for Ellis, she also has three children virtual learning at home.
“I have small children so you have to do everything with them,” said Ellis. “And for me, I’ve been working a lot of hours at the vaccine clinics. So I have a lot on my plate, and I put even more there because I know my community needs me right now.”
West Virginia nurses are physically and mentally exhausted, and asking for more help from the state.
“There needs to be some kind of support for nurses, mentally,” said Ellis. “Whether it’s a mental health day or something like that… something for them to take a step back and just be able to breathe for a second.”
And like our neighboring state Kentucky, they want to see an executive order, guaranteeing frontline workers worker’s compensation.
“States like Virginia and Ohio seem to be working towards similar legislation as well,” said Velickoff. “This is an opportunity for us to continue that momentum and be a beacon of hope. To set a precedent that we care for our frontline workers. We care for our healthcare workers.”