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As nurses face continued fatigue on the frontlines this holiday season, new USF program seeks to help

'They're exhausted. They are 100% beyond fatigued. They are scared,' Dr. Usha Menon said of nurses on the frontlines.

TAMPA, Fla — Unlike most, nurses don’t always get a break during the holidays from seeing life at its worst.

"Compassion fatigue is something that you usually see with caregivers, and we're seeing that with coworkers,” said Marcia Johansson, nurse practitioner and assistant professor at the University of South Florida.

“They become tired and kind of withdraw from their friends and family and kind of feel more on the depressed side…The longer that COVID continues, the more that we need to look out for that."

It's exactly why USF is rolling out a new program to help.

"We were able to develop a webinar series that will provide not only education about risk mitigation, especially from being a frontline worker, but also give these nurses the tools to build resilience, and to empower them to take care of themselves,” said Dr. Usha Menon, Dean of the USF Health College of Nursing.

The four-part webinar will launch at the beginning to the new year, and it will be available to nurses locally and throughout the state. USF was able to create this new webinar through a $57,000 donation from Sarasota businessman David Kotok and partner Christine Schlesinger. Kotok told USF when he saw the challenges nurses faced, from grueling schedules to PPE shortages, he was inspired to make a difference.

Dr. Menon said the program will help frontline workers manage daily challenges amid the pandemic. 

“They're exhausted. They are 100% beyond fatigued. They are scared. They are scared, not only for themselves and maybe less for themselves but really more for their families they are going back to,” said Dr. Menon.

So as the holiday season gears up, frontline workers need even more support to combat the stress of long hours and caring for the most ill patients that come through their hospital doors.

“…Say a prayer for them…be thankful for them. You know, too many times, our patients become very anxious, and they become very…. Demanding,” said Johansson. “Everybody is working as hard as they possibly can. And I would, I would be thankful for all of those people that are out there on the frontlines."

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