Workers on the front line are caring for countless COVID-19 patients, but who’s taking care of them?

There is one nurse who is making sure that her fellow health care workers are taken care of.

News 12 Staff

Apr 25, 2020, 1:01 AM

Updated 1,539 days ago

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Front line workers are being hailed as heroes for their work with COVID-19 patients. The work can also take a toll on their own mental health.
But there is one nurse who is making sure that her fellow health care workers are taken care of.
Julie Banasz is a nurse in the emergency department at Jersey Shore Medical Center. She works smack in the middle of the front lines in the battle against the coronavirus. She has not seen her daughter in a month – the child is staying with her grandparents in case Banasz is a carrier of the virus.
“My husband got sick back then. We immediately shipped her off to the in-laws and now she’s at my mom’s,” Banasz says.
Banasz says that the font-line work is taking a mental and emotional toll on her colleagues. But she also runs Tides Health and Wellness Coaching, which helps health care workers, police, fire, EMS and military spouses deal with the stresses of their jobs. And to take better care of themselves.
“A lot of my clients are, they’re just struggling. It’s a lot of anxiety. It’s a lot of fear,” she says. “We need empathy. We need someone who can understand what we went through.”
Banasz says that the workers go through what she called “secondary trauma.”
Photos: The Heroes of the Coronavirus Pandemic
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“We’re the people who are there for everybody at their worst moments. And with no visitors allowed in hospitals, no family members allowed in ambulances, people are alone. And we’re the ones providing comfort in their last moments. So, that because really hard for that front-liner. For that front-line health care provider it is a struggle to take all that on themselves,” she says.
Banasz says that she expects her wellness coaching business to get busy as the height of the pandemic gives way to emotional and mental aftershocks. She says that being busy would mean that those health care works would be getting the help they need after they are done helping everyone else.
“The biggest thing is allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Allowing yourself to say, ‘Hey, I need help. Hey, I need to talk.’ The stigma of mental health needs to go away right now, because the next pandemic could potentially be the mental health suffering of our front-liners,” she says.
The state does have a hotline for those seeking assistance with mental health issues. That number is 866-202-HELP.


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