Mary* has been a social worker for 30 years and has worked at the same hospital in northern New Jersey for the past 20 years. She is passionate about her work and dedicated to helping patients and their families understand their diagnosis and treatment options and negotiate the social and emotional effects of their health condition.
“Hospital social work is more than just a job or a paycheck to me. It’s my calling; it’s who I am. I find it personally and professionally rewarding to be able to help patients during what is often an overwhelming and scary time in their lives,” Mary explains.
Prior to COVID-19, Mary rarely missed a shift or called out sick. However, as the outbreak worsened in her community and the number of COVID-19 cases at her hospital continued to rise, she grew increasingly anxious about going to work. Sadly, two of her friends passed away from COVID-19 and several of her coworkers tested positive. Even though Mary tested negative, she was symptomatic, so her hospital sent her home for 14 days of self-quarantine.
As the end of her quarantine period loomed closer, Mary became nearly paralyzed with fear at the prospect of returning to work. Witnessing first-hand so much illness and death in her hospital due to the coronavirus coupled with the personal loss of two friends, took a heavy emotional toll on Mary. She described crippling anxiety, overwhelming feelings of helplessness and pessimism, insomnia and nightmares.
“I am trained in mental health. I know the signs to look for that signal a more serious mental health concern. I knew I needed help,” said Mary. “I love my job; I love helping people and I know that patients need my help now more than ever. I want to help, but I’m so scared to go back to work. I don’t want to get sick; I am so afraid I’m going to die. I feel so guilty for feeling this way. I don’t know what to do.”
Mary reached out to her insurance company, who referred her to Inpathy for online mental health services with licensed therapy and psychiatry clinicians. Mary was able to quickly connect with a psychiatrist for treatment. “I’ve had several virtual appointments with my psychiatrist. With his help, I feel more in control of my fear and anxiety. Now, I can help others cope while also taking care of my own mental and emotional health.”