‘I’m Struggling’: Oklahoma Nurses Speak On Emotional Strain Of COVID-19 Pandemic

Monday, August 16th 2021, 7:20 pm
By: Ashley Holden

It's been over a year since nurses, doctors and hospitals have been battling COVID right alongside their patients.

Now they're speaking out hoping to rally the community.

The Oklahoma Nurses Association is also stepping in to help.

"I'm struggling y'all," local nurse Ashley Winchester said in a recent social media video.

"I know I'm tired," Integris ICU Supervisor John Oppel said. "I know the nurses I work with are tired."

It's been 529 days since people like Winchester and Oppel started battling COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

Winchester also spent time in New York at the height of the pandemic.

"I never thought when I finished that contract that that would ever happen to me again," said Winchester.

But now she feels like she is experiencing PTSD and so does Oppel.

"It really has affected me, and I know that it has affected a lot of our nurses," Oppel said. "A lot of them are seeing counselors."

"I'm only 29," Winchester said. "I turn 30 in December, and I've had several patients that have died on my shift that are younger than me, that have younger kids than my kids."

Winchester and others are speaking out on social media trying to get people to believe them. She said she's seeing unvaccinated people lose the fight against the virus.

"You hope that they are going to be able to go back and do all those things, but the truth is they are probably not," Winchester said in her video posted online.

She's feels like her message to get vaccinated or at least mask up isn't being taken seriously, but she continues to try.

The Oklahoma Nurses Association is trying to rally the community and empower struggling health care workers.

Saturday they are holding “Love a Nurse – Shine the Light” vigils outdoors at various hospitals.

Those coming must wear masks and social distance, as they hold a flashlight or phones to show support for those on the frontlines.

We'll have more information on the locations participating and times in the coming days.