Jennifer Frontera, MD: Mental Health Toll of Pandemic on Frontline Workers


The professor of neurology at the NYU Langone Grossman School of Medicine detailed the ways the COVID-19 pandemic impacted mental health of frontline clinicians.

"I’ve never seen such sick patients. I’ve never seen so many people dying or deteriorating simultaneously. I probably still haven’t even fully processed the effects of that.”

While the data collected on COVID-19 has primarily been about its pathology and how it may impact those with preexisting conditions, an aspect that has not been subject of much focus has been its effect on the mental state of frontline clinicians. During the heights of the pandemic, hospital staff are commonly overworked, hospital buildings remain overflooded, and clinicians face an increased amount of death with no vaccine or treatments readily available to help.

A recently published dataset from Leah Croll, MD, resident in the neurology department at NYU Langone in New York City, looked at how the pandemic has affected those on the frontline at NYU Langone on specific psychosocial feelings such as anxiety, fear, and depression. The results showed that 79% and 83% of frontline workers and faculty staff, respectively, expressed that they were dealing with fear and anxiety, along with 38% of the total population who suggested they may be struggling with depression.

Croll’s colleague, Jennifer Frontera, MD, professor of neurology, NYU Langone Grossman School of Medicine, and neurointensivist, claims the amount of death she saw was stunning, even as someone accustomed to seeing patients in their weakest stages of disease. In an interview with NeurologyLive, Frontera discussed her experience even further and touched on aspects such as burnout and long-term mental state for patients who are released from the hospital.

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