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Dealing with panicking co-workers

Disasters   (1,936 Views | 29 Replies)

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Hey all,

It's a stressful time for everyone around the world, and for people who have to work in healthcare, it's an added stress because of a lot of reasons- lack of PPE, overload of work, callouts, long hours, fear, etc. At work, some people are calm, or at least appear calm. Others are just freaking out..

It's kind of like the movies, where in an emergency, some stay calm and focused, and some others stand there and freeze, start crying, hyperventilating, start screaming hysterically and other types of panicked reactions. It's fine in the movies, but working with people who panic is not fun....and I don't even work in a hospital. I was going to go that route last year, but decided not to because of the mandatory rotating day/evening shifts and because I was able to negotiate about $8,000 more per year at a nursing home than what the hospital was offering. It was a more out of the way hospital, so pay was lower. Anyway, what I am trying to say is even though at the nursing home I work at, there are some Covid positive residents and employees, lack of PPE, and a crazy amount of work that has been added on, it can't compare to the workload and stress of a hospital. And even where I'm at, some employees are just panicking.

This nurse found out she was going to have to take care of a Covid positive room, and literally started crying and having a panic attack for about 15 minutes, saying she was going to walk out and all that. Another nurse called out less than 1 hr before her shift started because she was going to be on a floor with Covid residents, leaving the other nurses who showed up to have to split up her assignment. I saw an aide scream hysterically across the room to a nurse because she had to take care of a Covid positive resident and the resident was standing near her. The therapists (PT and OT), as well as housekeeping staff back up into the wall everytime a nurse walks by, like they will get infected by the nurse. I want to say get a hold of yourself...

I get there are people who are scared for themselves and for their families, and if they quit, I wouldn't blame them one bit. But calling out whenever you find out you might have to take care of a Covid positive resident is just so irresponsible. So many people are asymptomatic anyway, so I just assume everyone has it.

I'm dealing by not calling out, staying calm, sharing PPE I had already had since work gave people one surgical mask and one N95 to wear forever, trying to stay positive, and assisting other nurses when there workload is harder than mine, trying to dispel misinformation, etc. But having to deal with panicky co-workers is not fun....how to deal with it?

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A Hit With The Ladies has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Psych.

178 Posts; 1,174 Profile Views

More than 90% of nurses in the U.S. are women. You're not working with firefighters or a construction crew. Women worry.

You're doing the right thing by staying calm and being vigilant while emotionally centered. Just make sure that management doesn't try to overwhelm you with more work than you can competently or safely manage yourself.

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hppygr8ful has 18 years experience as a ASN, RN, EMT-I and specializes in Psych, Addictions, Elder Care, L&D.

8 Followers; 3 Articles; 3,063 Posts; 34,064 Profile Views

2 hours ago, Peditra said:

It's kind of like the movies, where in an emergency, some stay calm and focused, and some others stand there and freeze, start crying, hyperventilating, start screaming hysterically and other types of panicked reactions.

I want to be the person in the movie who slaps the hysterical screamer across the face saying "Get ahold of yourself!"

Hppy

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Rose_Queen has 15 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN and specializes in OR, education.

12 Followers; 4 Articles; 9,478 Posts; 110,185 Profile Views

2 hours ago, hppygr8ful said:

I want to be the person in the movie who slaps the hysterical screamer across the face saying "Get ahold of yourself!"

Hppy

I’ll fight you for that role!

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9 Followers; 3,809 Posts; 29,081 Profile Views

airplane.gif

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Rose_Queen has 15 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN and specializes in OR, education.

12 Followers; 4 Articles; 9,478 Posts; 110,185 Profile Views

10 minutes ago, Wuzzie said:

airplane.gif

I’m so glad I’m not the only one who had that scene running through their mind!

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37 Posts; 1,063 Profile Views

13 minutes ago, Wuzzie said:

airplane.gif

LMAO

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143 Posts; 428 Profile Views

2 minutes ago, Rose_Queen said:

I’m so glad I’m not the only one who had that scene running through their mind!

First thing I thought of actually! And right after that, the scene in Moonstruck where Nicholas Cage tells Cher he loves her, and she smacks him --TWICE--and says "Snap out of it!!" Too much 🙂

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Rose_Queen has 15 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN and specializes in OR, education.

12 Followers; 4 Articles; 9,478 Posts; 110,185 Profile Views

Back on topic, lead by example. Educate others. Would it help your coworkers if someone were to demonstrate donning and doffing PPE for them? Education on transmission? Other things you can think of? Quite likely, many of them thought COVID would be a hospital problem and that it wouldn’t be a problem- oh, sick resident? Off to the hospital for them! kind of mindset.

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844 Posts; 13,186 Profile Views

I think Rose Queen is exactly right. I've never worked anywhere but the hospital, where education for all hospital employees, not just nurses, is mandatory. I don't know if LTC facilities have nurse educators or not. Educate in your own way about what you know and try to remain as calm as possible.

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Schweet has 10 years experience and specializes in Tele RN on the West Coast.

56 Posts; 1,783 Profile Views

Last time I worked (Hospital), a per diem nurse came to our Covid unit and she suddenly said she had chest pain and was hyperventilating. I assume it was her first time on that type of unit and had a panic attack? Not sure if she went to ED or floated to a different unit. Point being it can be scary going to this type of unit initially or in your case at a SNF.

I was the 1st person on my unit taking care of a Covid + pt and it was some scary stuff the 1st time. Of course at that point it was a fly by the seat of your pants environment. I mean sure, they gave you the teaching on how to don and doff and info about Covid. We had the PPE we needed, etc. When I went in the room for the first time, my heart began racing and I felt like a nursing student all over again. Worries floated in my mind like what if I doff wrong, how contagious is this really, do I have a good seal on my mask?

It was disconcerting when I came back to work with NEW doffing procedures, reusing PPE and my pt had succumbed to the illness a few days later. By this point I thought, I only washed my hands 3 times now the policy is 5. Any nurse can imagine how that feels.🤨

Fast forward to present day. While I wouldn't say I don't ever worry, it is much less intimidating than that first day. I will say, looking back at my initial reaction to the situation gives me an better understanding of what other nurses may be experiencing. If they are still fairly new to being around Covid + patients then it may be prudent to cut them some slack, for now. If it's been a week or two and they are still frantic as a Sponge Bob is about everything, then see previous GIF posted above for guidance.

-SW ❤

Edited by Schweet

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37 Posts; 1,063 Profile Views

6 hours ago, Rose_Queen said:

Back on topic, lead by example. Educate others. Would it help your coworkers if someone were to demonstrate donning and doffing PPE for them? Education on transmission? Other things you can think of? Quite likely, many of them thought COVID would be a hospital problem and that it wouldn’t be a problem- oh, sick resident? Off to the hospital for them! kind of mindset.

3 hours ago, sevensonnets said:

I think Rose Queen is exactly right. I've never worked anywhere but the hospital, where education for all hospital employees, not just nurses, is mandatory. I don't know if LTC facilities have nurse educators or not. Educate in your own way about what you know and try to remain as calm as possible.

I think you guys are definitely right on the nurse educator role...this company doesn't have one. It's a money thing, everyone at this company seems to have 2 or 3 roles. The nurse educator role is probably put on the supervisors, but they are too busy to do it, or don't want to. But I will try my best to do it, along with other nurses if they are willing to.

Part of the problem is also absent management...literally. I have seen the DON maybe twice in the entire time I've been there. There is usually just the nurses and aides on the floor the entire day...that can be a good thing sometimes, but in situations like these, leadership is needed. They did have one of the aides bring a box of Twinkies to give to the staff as appreciation. Not a box of Twinkies for each employee...one box to share for the entire floor....LOL, I'm being serious. It's a very cheap company. After this Covid thing is all over, I don't plan on staying on full-time. The only thing that is redeeming about the company is how much I like the nurses and aides I work with (most of them), as well as most of the residents. Most of them are complete sweethearts.

And it's also some of the staff think some alternative ideas about Covid. For example, one thinks the Chinese government set it on purpose to kill the the Chinese activists in the country, another thinks Trump did it to get rid of black people...I'm being serious, this is what I hear at work. A nurse educator would really help!!

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