People call doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, and workers at public health centers “heroes” in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, but, in reality, they feel mistreated, a survey revealed.
Gyeonggi Public Health Policy Institute conducted the opinion poll, jointly with the research team of Professor You Myung-soon of Seoul National University Graduate School of Public Health, on 1,112 hospital staffs in the battle against Covid-19 from May 18 to May 31.
According to the poll, 54.1 percent of the respondents thought that the medical staff treating Covid-19 patients received an unfair distribution of resources and discriminatory treatment.
The sense of unfair treatment was strongest among workers at public health centers, with 65.5 percent of them saying so, followed by 59.1 percent of epidemiologists, and 51.3 percent of nurses.
About 65 percent of workers at isolated testing facilities also felt they were unreasonably treated, followed by 55.5 percent of those at private medical institutions.
Such response was low among staff at state-run medical institutions, with only 47.5 percent of them saying so.
Healthcare professionals spend about three months to deal with Covid-19. Some 42 percent said the Covid-19 work period was between three months and four months, 21.5 percent, between two and three months, and 21.8 percent, less than one month.
The longer they worked, the worse their health status went. On a five-point scale with five indicating the worst health condition, those who worked for 30 days marked 3.5, those for 60 days, 4.0, and those for 90 days, 4.6.
About 38 percent of the respondents said their health worsened after responding to Covid-19, and 47.2 percent said it was unchanged.
Almost 70 percent said there was no work hour adjustment to reduce workload.
Despite the demanding work conditions, 83.4 percent of the respondents said they would continue their work as long as the Covid-19 crisis persists. Seventy-seven percent said they would do their job, no matter how the Covid-19 situation gets worse.
The medical and epidemiological staff suffered 3.5 times stronger anxiety over a viral infection than ordinary people.
Half of the respondents said their workplace was not safe from infections, and 43.8 percent said their workplace was more vulnerable to infections. Such percentage is 3.5 times higher than 12.4 percent of ordinary people who were polled for Covid-19 risk recognition in Gyeonggi Province.
“As confirmed cases were rising in the greater Seoul area recently, many doctors and disease control officials must be feeling pressured to contain the disease. Many tests will also weigh on disease control staff,” said Lee Hee-young, head of the Gyeonggi Public Health Policy Institute.
The latest survey could be used to support medical and epidemiological staff dealing with Covid-19, Lee added.
Professor You of SNU said it would be impossible to respond to Covid-19 without the work of physicians and disease control teams across the nation. People need to come up with ways to treat them better, to brace for the summer heat and a second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak, she said.
“The authorities and the people need social solidarity to guarantee the safety of Covid-19 response teams and respond early to signals of their mental and psychological distress,” You added.
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