NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — As healthcare workers brace for another wave of COVID-19 cases, some are speaking out about the mental toll the pandemic has taken.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Friday, their struggles are the focus of the short film The Sounds of Caring, which is winning accolades at film festivals.
“How I am feeling is an interesting and powerful question,” sound artist and filmmaker Yoko Sen poses in the film to 20 Northwell Health workers on the front line.
“Fearful, anxious and overwhelmingly sad,” the film says. “I didn’t want to know who actually had died. And I felt that for each day I didn’t open up those charts, it was like they were alive for one more day.”
One of the faces behind the film’s voices is Dr. Teresa Amato, chair of emergency medicine.
“I know early on, people were saying, ‘Oh, this is like the flu,’ and I remember going into work and thinking, ‘No, this is nothing like the flu,'” Dr. Amato said.
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Behind the mask, healthcare heroes are very much human, and overcoming fear, according to Sen.
“They’re always taking care of other people, but not enough people are asking them the question, how are you feeling right now?” said Sen.
For caregivers, it was a chance to express collective sadness and resilience in the face of extraordinary loss.
“I’m feeling sad… I feel heartbroken… I feel like the nightmare just doesn’t end,” the film says.
Respiratory therapist Stanley John is another one of the film’s faceless voices.
“Superheroes, Superman, Kryptonite? There is something that still impacts every superhero,” said John.
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Amid the sadness, feelings of accomplishment help energize them as they brace for another possible onslaught.
“People are afraid. Can I make it through another round of this?” said Carolyn Germaine, a registered nurse and director of the transitional care unit at Mather Hospital.
“Where are the healthcare workers going to get that second set of reserve from? And that’s my worry,” said Dr. Joseph Marino, medical director at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Hospital.
Sen hopes their voices will send a universal message.
“They need our support, not just during this pandemic, but months and years after many of them are traumatized. Many of them are hurting,” Sen told Gusoff.
The short film is available for free on YouTube. It’s dedicated to healthcare and essential workers worldwide.