San Diegan Pantea Vahidi said she understands firsthand the pain a healthcare worker may endure while caring for a sick patient. After all, Vahidi, herself, is a longtime nurse with experience in hospice care.
Vahidi said her professional experience is what prompted her to create a virtual support group for caregivers on the front-lines of the new coronavirus pandemic. The virus, which causes the deadly COVID-19 disease, has infected 1.9 million worldwide, killing more than 120,000.
“As a nurse, it is one thing to see a patient pass with their families around them, and it is another to have patients die on ventilators alone as their mobile phones are ringing by loved ones hoping for an answer. To experience that as a caregiver is a deep level of unspeakable soul pain” said Vahidi, who grew up during the Iran-Iraq war, and said she is no stranger to uncertain times. “I anticipate a huge wave of healthcare professionals experiencing PTSD and moral injury now and for months and years to come, just like after any war.”
“Caring for Those Who Care” is a daily, virtual meet-up for healthcare workers. It’s a free space where workers can share their experiences and connect with each other.
“Nurses and healthcare professionals need support more than ever and the quarantine and social distancing has made it difficult to tend to that human aspect that longs for being heard and held,” Vahidi said. “Connecting with compassion helps foster resilience, replenish strength and restore hope. It is like an emotional cane to help you walk, when you are too overwhelmed, exhausted, and scared to walk alone and need an extra leg to lean on.”
Vahidi said the creation of her virtual group is based off of research that shows people need to feel support from others during times of trauma.
“I found scientific proof for what I witnessed on a daily basis to be effective,” Vahidi said. “Having talked to some of my patients that had survived a suicide attempt and learning about some other suicide survivors — I found that they collectively say, had they felt someone cared about them, they would have not jumped over the bridge or taken that bottle of pills.”
The “Caring for Those Who Care” group is meant to be a virtual, compassionate haven and is not a replacement for psychotherapy. It is a readily available emotional first-aid kit to respond to the emotional turmoil that nurses are faced with every minute as the COVID-19 crisis continues, Vahidi said.
“These brave healthcare providers are out there giving others life and hope; they need someone to empathize with them and be there for them to lift them up,” Vahidi said. “After all, they are flesh and blood, with souls that are aching, and it is my honor to care for those who care for others.”
For more information or to join the “Caring for those who Care” support program, go to www.PanteaVahidi.com or call (858) 900-4984.
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