Neighbors of MN

“Working as a health care provider during a pandemic has been very stressful. My stress level was highest back in April, May and June of last year. We didn’t have enough education about Covid and my workload was very high. That’s also the time my dad was diagnosed with cancer. Which started a whole new way of life for me. Since June I have had to bring my dad to his weekly chemo appointments, and sit with him at his nearly daily radiation appointments. At the end of the day I’m exhausted.

Working as a nurse, I take pride in being able to help my patients. My role is as a care coordinator, so I mostly have been able to do health assessments over the phone. The majority of the patients I work with are Karen, Karenni or Hmong refugees. This summer, I had to work hard to educate many of my refugee patients about quarantining, wearing masks, social distancing and getting tested if they were exposed to Covid. At that time there were high rates of Karen patients hospitalized with Covid, due to working and carpooling together to turkey plants.

There are a lot of issues between the patients I work with trusting their medical providers. Many patients are opting against going to the doctor’s office because of false rumors circulating in the community and on social media that they will be forced to get a vaccine that they could die from. Many of my patients don’t know what to believe, so they will wait until they can’t tolerate their medical condition any more before they finally go to the ER.

My job is to help connect my patients to the right medical resources, and make sure they follow up with their doctor’s appointments.

To manage my stress, I try not to read any bad news. I especially avoid reading about what is going on in politics in my homeland of Burma. Our administrator emailed our medical team and told us to be extra compassionate to our Karen and Karenni patients because of what is happening in Burma.

I try to only read for pleasure to protect my mental and emotional wellbeing.

Hiking in nature is one of the greatest ways to help me with my stress. In the summer I was able to get out hiking more with my nieces and nephews. This winter has been hard, it’s too cold. I was able to do a little ice fishing. It helps to get outside even if it’s cold.

I am vaccinated now, and that gives me a sense of relief. Although I was never too afraid of getting Covid, I think because of my background living in a refugee camp for the first half of my life, I saw a lot of really bad illnesses like tuberculosis, whooping cough, and malaria.

I love talking to my patients, specifically my elderly patients. It makes me happy. Some days are challenging. The cases where you aren’t able to convince people to make healthy choices. It makes me feel like a failure. But at the same time I have to respect their decisions, and trust that I did the best I could. It’s stressful, but I feel I am making a difference and helping someone, so that counts.”