University of Regina study highlights how detrimental COVID-19 has been for health care workers

Hospital staff in the emergency department. Credit: Alberta Health Services

It’s no secret that Canada’s healthcare workers have borne the brunt of the pandemic.

The consequences are on full display in a new University of Regina survey study entitled: “Have Saskatchewan Health Care Workers Reached a Breaking Point”?

Data for the survey was collected at four different points throughout the pandemic. Baseline data from May of 2020 was compared to the most recent data collected this past November.

Read more: Staff recruitment, retention remain paramount for Saskatchewan’s health-care industry

Roughly 4,000 Saskatchewan health care staff completed the survey.

The research was headed by Sean Tucker, an Occupational Health & Safety rofessor at U of R.

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“We saw in the written comments that quite a lot of workers are struggling with understaffing. They really spelled out the linkages between working short and burnout. They’re feeling helpless about the situation,” said Tucker.

University of Regina. University of Regina

Survey findings concluded that nearly 1 in 4 workers are probably experiencing mental illness. And 44% of healthcare staff are more likely to leave their profession compared to before the pandemic.

University of Regina. University of Regina

CUPE Local 5430 represents healthcare workers in the province.

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Their president, Bashir Jalloh, has seen the results of these findings first-hand with his members.

“It’s having a significant effect on them. They’re being deprived of taking holidays. And even when they are taking time off they are constantly being called back into work.”

Read more: 2021 seeing increase in health-care workers leaving SHA

This burnout is severely affecting the industry’s ability to retain and recruit healthcare staff.

At the Canadian Medical Association, President Dr. Katharine Smart explained the crisis facing health care professionals.

“We do not have enough doctors or nurses for the population, and this has been made acutely worse by the pandemic. We’re seeing new levels of people leaving because they’ve found the pandemic untenable for them to be able to carry on.”

Tucker is hopeful the results of the survey can be applied to finding real world solutions for health care professionals across the board.

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