Taylor Campbell, 26 years old, enters the Ninkasi Better Living Room, wearing a baggy blue button-up. She introduces herself, sits, and orders a beer using the table’s QR code — a permanent fixture thanks to COVID-19. Her drink arrives, and then Pedestrian at Best by Courtney Barnett blares over the sound system. Ironic, because Campbell’s life as a senior nurse is anything but pedestrian. This past weekend a hospital visitor assaulted Campbell’s coworker; one of many sources of stress that has been intensified by the pandemic.
A review of 44 studies, published on Springer Link in July 2020, showed up to 73.4 percent of healthcare workers reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress during times of viral outbreak.
These findings were exemplified in January 2022, when an ICU nurse, Michael Odell, died by suicide in response to the stresses of his personal and work life. Signs of this issue have been appearing since the beginning of the pandemic.
Campbell wanted to be a nurse since she was 13; she often visited a hospital with her grandmother who fought cancer. She began working at PeaceHealth hospital in Eugene, Oregon, in late 2018. She had only 13 months of normalcy before COVID-19 hit. Despite the added strain, and increased turnover rate, Campbell continued. In three years, she climbed to senior status; two years sooner than she expected. Yes, she still feels overwhelmed often. While on the job, she uses pressure points to center herself, but gardening at home has been her real savior.
“The beginning was so scary,” Derik Gee, Campbell’s brother-in-law, said. “I was just like, ‘Oh man, this poor girl just got tossed into the fire.’”
While Campbell’s profession has been more straining than when she started, she still finds good days. “There are days when you’re like, ‘This is why I do what I do,’” she said. “I think that's what gets a lot of us going is reflecting on those good days.” She hopes to someday become a community nurse that prevents people from having to go to the hospital in the first place.