How psychiatry is helping treat PTSD of COVID-19 doctors on the front lines

The chief of psychiatry at Sinai Grace Hospital, says he was approached by doctors working in the medical ICU about the overwhelming demands in taking care of COVID-19 patients on ventilators or very ill.

From that, Dr. Gerald Shiener said an idea was born that psychia

try could help on a number of levels. 

"Helping those doctors take care of their patients talking to them about whether they wanted to be resuscitated whether they wanted to be intubated and how their care should proceed as they became more progressively more ill," Shiener said.

Four residents volunteered to work in ICU's caring for patients on ventilators, side-by-side with the critical care teams. 

"Some family members have described this as a lifeline to their loved ones in the hospital," Ashika Bains, M.D., DMC Wayne State University. "We have counseled them as they're going through a really rough time.

"What we try to do is have video visits for them, so they can see their family member, can visit them and say encouraging things to them as they are going through a really rough time."

Health care workers are also dealing with a great deal of stress and trauma.

"We give little lectures on what it's like to go through something like this, what's normal and what people should look out for," Baines said. "We give lectures on what it is like to go through trauma, what is normal, and what people should look out for. 

"We do it on a day to day basis for whoever is around and is willing to listen."

The four took positions in ICU's at DMC hospitals including Detroit Receiving Hospital and Harper Hospital, essentially embedded there focused on the psychiatric elements of treatment. 
"I'm continuously inspired by all the health care workers at the DMC," Baines said. "The time, energy and care they have spent has been really amazing."

The doctors are also helping with how to deliver bad news and understanding reactions to illness and loss.