Just as COVID-19 left a great long-term impact upon everyone around the world including families, schools, businesses and much more, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on healthcare systems around the world. The pandemic has led to a surge in demand for healthcare services, as well as a shortage of healthcare workers. In this blog post, we will explore the long-term impact of COVID-19 on healthcare, focusing on the lessons we have learned and the measures needed to enhance future preparedness, and how these lessons can be used to improve the future of healthcare.
COVID-19 has had a huge impact on healthcare, especially when it comes to having enough healthcare workers. One of the biggest effects has been that there are not enough healthcare workers to meet the growing demand. In addition to the huge demand for healthcare services, the pandemic has also led to burnout and attrition among healthcare workers, retirement of many older workers, and difficulty recruiting new healthcare workers. These factors have potential to create a long-term impact on the delivery of healthcare. How did COVID-19 lead to the following factors?
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a huge increase in the number of people getting sick, which put a lot of strain on the healthcare system. Hospitals and medical facilities became very busy and had to deal with more patients than they were used to. This sudden surge in cases overwhelmed the healthcare system, making it hard to manage everything at once. Due to the rising number of patients affected from COVID-19, healthcare workers worked longer hours than their regular shifts to meet the straining demands of the patients incoming daily, including shifts with no breaks whatsoever. Understandably, faced with extreme pressure and exhaustion from the constant demand of attention towards patients, burnout and attrition became high amongst healthcare workers, which led to many dropouts from the healthcare department. Additionally, as assistance and support for patients became the top priority, it was hard for workers to take care of their own well-being and maintain their overall health.
Many workers have left their positions due to the fear of being caught with COVID-19. Healthcare workers became wary of the contagious environment of hospitals and facilities, and feared that the illness would be brought back to their own homes and affect their families. This included the retirement of many older workers within healthcare during the pandemic. Older workers were at a higher risk of coming in contact with COVID-19 as mentioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) stating that older adults are more susceptible to the infection and have higher chances of developing extreme symptoms. As older and younger workers start to leave their jobs, attention started to be put upon staffing, training, and recruitment as employment of new workers became a tedious task. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some parts of healthcare training, like clinical rotations and internships, had to be postponed or modified to limit the in-person contact of others. This was done to practice social distancing within the workforce and prevent the virus from spreading. The overburdened healthcare system also had consequences for training new healthcare workers. Existing healthcare professionals were so busy taking care of patients that they had less time and energy to teach and guide new recruits. Mentoring and training programs had to be scaled back or put on hold because there simply weren’t enough resources available. As a result, the decreased capacity to train and mentor new recruits made it harder for aspiring workers to enter the workforce and contribute to the healthcare system, and gain hands-on experience that was required before entering.
The severity of the healthcare system during the pandemic highlighted the importance of supporting and taking care of healthcare workers. It additionally emphasized the need for strategies to prevent burnout and ensure that there are enough resources and staff available to handle future crises. By addressing these challenges, healthcare systems can better prepare for similar situations in the future and support the well-being of both existing and new healthcare workers. Recognizing such challenges and understanding the lessons learned can help with future preparedness for another crisis such as the one faced with COVID-19. Some strategies can be taken as followed:
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented significant challenges in maintaining a balanced workforce and making sure the needs of healthcare workers are met. Hospitals learned to operate better when faced with difficulties at full capacity, personal safety, staffing shortages, and limited training opportunities. This situation has undoubtedly posed obstacles for both current healthcare professionals and aspiring individuals. However, we can use these challenging times as valuable lessons to pave the way for a brighter future. By prioritizing the well-being of healthcare workers, fostering continuous learning, and embracing new approaches, we have the opportunity to take this as a stepping stone and overcome any future challenges that may arise. We hope that healthcare workers can find peace and heal from the demanding experiences that were enduring in the hospitals during this crisis. Their selflessness and dedication were and will always be appreciated by millions of patients, and we all hope that they continue to prioritize not only us, but their own well-being as they venture through serving the community.
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