Corvallis, OR

Burned Out from Lingering Pandemic, Some on Frontlines Find Faith an Antidote

Alexander Langford

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Registered nurse Jessica Blair is on staff at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Corvallis working with COVID-19 patients.Courtesy of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Public Information

As the sunrise breaks the horizon line, 35-year-old registered nurse Jessica Blair of Corvallis, Oregon, begins another 12-hour shift at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. Thoughts of the unknown cross her mind as she prepares for the day ahead; her work hasn’t been the same since the onset of COVID-19. Blair knows one thing for certain: she is going to give her patients the best support she possibly can.

Medical workers like Blair are exhausted from working through the lingering pandemic.

“It's definitely taken a toll,” Blair said. “We have had a lot of nurses move on.” She explained that she rotates between working in a surgery unit and in a COVID unit, depending on the hospital’s needs.

With variants straining short-staffed facilities across the country, some on the frontlines are experiencing added physical, mental and emotional stress.

“It’s something you kind of constantly have to evaluate,” Blair said, speaking of the realities of workplace burnout as COVID cases steadily rise again. “It’s frustrating because it kind of felt like for a while maybe things were getting a little better.”

What pulled her out of despair in the early phases of the pandemic continues to keep her afloat. She credits her faith as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses for helping her endure the ongoing toll of the pandemic.

“Prayer for me is really important,” Blair said. “Especially when things just seem completely overwhelming.”

She also leans on fellow believers for support. “Having some type of personal interaction with people you know care is really helpful,” Blair said. She explained how her family of faith mobilizes virtually on a regular basis via Zoom. “A support system is really important for everyone right now,” she said.

American psychological and psychiatric associations, while not advocating or endorsing any specific religion, acknowledge the role spirituality and religious faith can play in coping with distress and trauma.

Lawrence Onoda, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Mission Hills, California, noted some ways spirituality can help, including giving people “a positive hope and meaning toward life, comfort by looking for answers and strength from a higher power, and a collective shared experience of support and community.”

Blair finds joy in passing along to others what has helped her.

“No one needs to feel alone if they are experiencing pandemic fatigue,” she said. “All of us are all going through that.” To show her care and concern for others, Blair joins friends online to write or call people in her community with a message of hope from the Scriptures.

One favorite resource for her is jw.org, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses, with its collection of practical articles like “How to Beat Pandemic Fatigue” and short comforting videos such as “The Resurrection – Soon a Reality.”

“It is so on top of everything that’s going on with current events,” Blair added, referring to jw.org. “Trying to find really balanced, helpful information, it can be hard to find sometimes but I always feel like jw.org is on top of things and very accurate.”

Blair’s spirituality keeps her positive about the future and gives her hope, which she likens to an anchor. She added, “Having a hope and focusing on that hope is really essential.”

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