At this juncture in the history of our nation, we are witness to a crisis, COVID-19, that is unparalleled in most of our lifetimes with regard to the devastation that it has wrought. In the United States, over 4,500,000 individuals have been diagnosed with the disease and 154,000 have died. While the number of new cases reported in the United States on a day-to-day basis is lower than the peak levels reported on 07/17/2020 and 07/24/2020, the epidemiological data do not reflect a clear diminution of the incidence of new cases. These staggering numbers are deeply concerning, but those data fail to capture an important cohort of individuals who are adversely impacted as a result of coronavirus.
To date, and rightfully so, much of the emphasis regarding the effects of COVID-19 has focused on the patients who were diagnosed with disease. Although preliminary case studies have suggested that asymptomatic patients will be relatively unscathed, those patients who are symptomatic are at-risk to experience the following neurologic symptoms during the acute phase of the illness, i.e., the point in time when the illness is active and has not yet resolved: ataxia, acute cerebrovascular disease, delirium, dizziness, headache, loss of smell and taste, reduced consciousness, and seizures. Moreover, studies of deceased patients have reported damage to multiple organ systems in the body and increased onset of blood clotting. Additional studies have revealed that those individuals who are diagnosed with COVID-19 are more likely to be agitated, anxious, confused, depressed, and/or traumatized.
It is noteworthy that, with regard to the emotional symptoms, recent studies have shown that those individuals who serve as caretakers for patients with COVID-19 at medical facilities are much more likely to experience clinically significant emotional distress, which includes, but is not limited to anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and trauma-based disorders anxious and depressive symptoms.
A number of factors likely underlay the onset of these depressive symptoms:
Based on these data, it would be mutually beneficial for employers to ensure that their employees have adequate access to mental health care. To the extent that employers create a pathway for their employees to access mental healthcare, that effort has the potential to:
For more information on how your company can support the mental healthcare needs of your staff, please connect with the EMH team for an individual plan for your facility. More information on the metal healthcare challenges for SNF staff can also be found here: