GREAT FALLS — People depend on healthcare workers every day when they are sick or injured, and rely on knowing they will be there when needed.
Nurses and other healthcare workers have demanding jobs that take a toll on them, and more than just physically.
Mental health is a difficulty many in the healthcare world struggle with; it's estimated that about 40% of the 20,000 nurses in Montana deal with mental health issues that can be a result of their careers and the work they do.
“It’s been challenging. I’m very proud of our nursing staff. They’ve been really innovative and have worked together to meet the challenging times,” said Great Falls Clinic Chief Nursing Officer Rachel Pahut.
One of the challenges affecting staff is the overflow in hospitals, especially from COVID-19 patients.
With hospitals experiencing increases in the number of patients, more time is required of nurses to care for the sick, including long shifts and overtime hours.
“Just to maintain the normal operations of the hospital, as well as having the COVID patients come in, has been challenging. Everybody has just stepped up to meet the needs of the patients” said Pahut.
Being frontline workers and direct caregivers, nurses also struggle with fatalities that are especially looming with the pandemic still in full swing.
“It’s very hard and I don’t think it ever gets any easier, especially when you feel like the outcome is out of your control,” she said.
Hospitals are beginning to recognize mental health challenges in their staff and are now taking steps to address the issue.
Despite the challenges nurses and other healthcare workers face, many of them really love their jobs and take pride in the work they do for their communities.
"It’s important to remember that they work hard and that it goes a long way to show gratitude," Pahut said. “Really all healthcare workers, we should be thanking them for what they’re doing.”