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Trauma center opening for workers impacted by COVID

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Frontline medical workers who have worked tirelessly over the past year to treat desperately ill patients while dealing with their own feelings of trauma, grief and loss are getting a new resource thanks to Northwell Health.

Video Transcript

- Remember during the height of the pandemic last year when New Yorkers would celebrate frontline workers every night at 7:00 PM? Well, we are still honoring them. And some are now sharing the mental stress they were under, as they documented this dark chapter in our history. Eyewitness News reporter Michelle Charlesworth with more.

- Take the goggles off and the mask off and see the marks left over to remind you of the battle scars for the day.

MICHELLE CHARLESWORTH: Exhausted and emotional vlogs by the doctors and nurses tell the story. They need constant access to therapy to help them do their jobs. And now they have that help.

ELYSE ISOPO: I have some tears, I'm crying right now because I'm so tired.

MICHELLE CHARLESWORTH: Nurse Isopo's father had just been admitted and her mother was at home with COVID, plus she had small children and worried about her husband getting COVID from her.

ELYSE ISOPO: I think the center is unbelievable and needed.

MICHELLE CHARLESWORTH: Carlos Rivera is part of the hard-working cleaning crew that keeps everything sanitary in the hospital. He has suffered terribly.

CARLOS RIVERA: Grandma had a lot of underlying issues, but Dad didn't. Grandma died on April 3 and Dad died a year from today.

MICHELLE CHARLESWORTH: Now a center for traumatic stress, resilience, and recovery offers talk therapy for the burnout of one year plus working on the front lines fighting COVID from and for the 23 hospitals of Northwell Health.

CARLOS RIVERA: It was tough, the most hardest thing I've ever had to endure in my life.

MICHELLE CHARLESWORTH: At the helm, Dr. Mayer Bellehsen, who compares COVID PTSD to trauma suffered by veterans.

MAYER BELLEHSEN: Traumatic stress can often come in the forms of witnessing or experiencing a threat, such as loss of life, loss of loved ones, and too much wear and tear.

ELYSE ISOPO: I consider myself a very strong person. And I didn't realize the toll it was taking on me until things started lightening up a little bit.

MICHELLE CHARLESWORTH: But this prioritizing of mental health is already helping.

CARLOS RIVERA: This morning I woke up and I wasn't OK. But I have the support of my family and my wife and my children. They made me feel a lot better with hugs and kisses.