RICHMOND, Va. -- Healthcare workers are saying that Virginia's healthcare system is stretched thin, taking a toll on those working to keep people healthy.
"Nurses are mentally depleted, exhausted and traumatized," Linda Shepherd, the President of the Virginia Nurses Association, said.
Members of the Virginia Nursing Association had the chance to recount their experiences at work during the pandemic on Tuesday.
"Imagine the worst day you've ever had at work then add human suffering, death, personal risk and repeat it every day for 18 months," Ashley Apple, a nurse, said.
Even before the pandemic began, the industry was experiencing a nursing shortage. The pandemic has only exacerbated this problem.
"With the increased ratios, we're not able to provide the individualized care that we expect to, that we strive to do as nurses," Ashley Fogleman, a nurse, said.
Nurses recalled interactions with frustrated patients and families for who they sometimes don't have answers.
"We are all tired. The physicians are tired, management is tired, the administration is tired," Fogleman said.
Members said that polls from the past year show that more nurses are considering leaving the profession.
"I'm worried about the generations before me that are going to lose their love of nursing because of this pandemic," Sheri Harsanyi, a nurse, said.
Speakers on Tuesday said that while long-term fixes are needed at the state and federal level, they are also calling on the public to help with the current surge of cases.
"We need the public to get vaccinated, to wear a mask, to make responsible decisions about their health," Apple said.