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'Mental toll on healthcare workers'; Emergency Physicians of Tidewater reflect on COVID-19 pandemic

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Posted at 7:38 AM, Aug 17, 2021

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - On Monday, the Virginia Department of Health added more than 1,700 new cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.

"This has had an emotional and mental toll on healthcare workers," said Dr. Heidi Best, President of the Emergency Physicians of Tidewater.

Best belongs to a group of about 160 board-certified/board-prepared Emergency Medicine physicians and mid-level providers who are contracted to work in Hampton Roads emergency rooms at area hospitals.

"Now we are seeing normal, everyday people coming to ERs and the worst numbers we have seen in Hampton Roads since the beginning of the pandemic," said Best.

She says emergency rooms across the region are jam-packed and full with COVID-19 cases plus patients coming in with regular ailments.

"Initially with the shutdown no one was coming in to ERs," Best said.

EPT have been treating patients for 50 years this year, and they see around 360,000 people a year in area emergency rooms, and that number is rising. She says those coming into the ER with COVID-19 symptoms are trending younger.

"The first wave in Hampton Roads was what you would expect older nursing home patients and now it is the 20 to 40 age group out living their lives and not vaccinated, not wearing masks not distancing, just trying to have a great summer," said Best.

Currently there are 281 COVID-19 patients across the Commonwealth that Best says the majority present with a common theme.

"99 percent are unvaccinated," said Best.

Her advice, mask up and stay distant, because the Delta variant is proving to be highly contagious, whether you've gotten the shot or not. She says what the ER doctors are seeing now is similar to the peaks this past winter.

"We are on track to see even more than that what we would have considered the height of the pandemic," said Best.

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