The pandemic of 2019 left the world in a terrible place. After encompassing over 180 countries leaving many with troubled immune systems and mental health conditions, and shattering the economy, this virus was challenging. Even now, after moving into 2022, the lingering effects of COVID are still felt, particularly in the public health sector. Substance abuse problems, an increase in violence, and rising cases of obesity are a few of the issues this industry has to sort through.
Community wellness depends on many variables, one of which is the activity of the public health workers. As a professional, it is your job to ensure that patients are safe and healthy outside of hospitals. However, working with patients after tackling a painful pandemic is a challenge. Here are some common issues Public health workers have to deal with because of the COVID-19 virus:
The Need for Public Health Workers
Hospitals alone cannot look after the population since patients need more than medicines and a doctor’s visit to stay healthy. Your job is to counsel patients, teach them basic hygiene standards, study the epidemiological trends and help patients deal with manageable conditions without getting admitted to a hospital. Therefore, there are several public health careers for you to explore and become an asset to the community. When healthcare institutes had reached saturation point and could no longer accommodate patients, public health workers stepped in to elevate the situation.
As a public health care worker, you had to administer vaccines to patients by volunteering in community centers, setting up a vaccine booth, or offering assistance in small clinics. Your job was also to educate patients on the signs and symptoms of the virus and how to manage them at home by issuing the quarantine rules safely. These guidelines curbed most of her infections and helped patients take care of themselves instead of going to the hospital, elevating much of the burden.
What Did COVID-19 Leave Behind?
While the virus is mainly contained, contracting the pathogen, a shifting economy, and lockdown, coupled with social distancing, left much in its wake. Here are some challenges you have to tackle before the community can get back on its feet:
- Increase in Substance Abuse
Roughly 9.6 million Americans lost their jobs because of the pandemic. While the government does provide unemployment checks, it’s still not enough in an increasingly expensive economy. Consequently, more people started abusing substances to cope with the situation. These include drinking too much alcohol and using any drug they can find. For instance, users can buy opioid pills at a meager $5 on the street, but drug pushers can sell the same opioid at $125 a bottle, making it attainable. Substance abuse leads to disoriented behavior, impaired vision, throwing up after binging, and severe headaches. At the same time, long-term effects occur in liver cirrhosis.
As a public health worker, it’s your job to recognize the signs and symptoms of substance abuse and take the necessary steps to help the patient. This includes active counseling, guiding them to rehab, and ultimately assisting the patient in acquiring a job. You may also need to extend your help to the family and help them cope with a loved one who’s heavily addicted. This may involve active trauma counseling, checking for evidence of domestic violence, and connecting neglected children to community centers where they can at least find meals to eat.
- Escalation in Mental Health Crises
More than half of COVID survivors are facing severe depression. These patients also have intense anxiety since recovering from COVID can damage their immune system, including permanent respiratory problems. Consequently, most patients became depressed even after the lockdown was no longer due to their deteriorating health and social isolation.
As a public health worker, you should look into helping the community find coping mechanisms to handle their mental health. While extreme cases need professional psychiatric help, you can help with mild to manageable cases. Therapy techniques like group counseling and support groups can help patients feel connected to others going through the same. You can also provide counseling sessions and conduct family interventions to help reform bonds.
- A Case Of Obesity
Obesity is a type of weight gain where the person’s weight shoots up higher than it should. In most cases, this increase in weight is visible physically. It makes it difficult for the person to move or perform everyday activities. You can consult patients who are obese, providing them with the necessary guidance they need to control their weight. However, this is not easy. Most cases of obesity are not isolated, with mental health being the primary trigger point. So you may have to provide counseling and connect the patient to the nearest psychiatrist before you can prompt a lifestyle change.
The sudden weight gain may also have started during the pandemic when social isolation pushed many patients to turn to food.
Obesity has also become an epidemic in the US. Once the weight starts settling in, it’s hard to shed it off. Unless the weight gets under control, it can also lead to diseases and conditions such as heart problems, muscle dystrophy, diabetes, and arthritis. Obese women also struggle to sustain pregnancy and have higher chances of miscarrying. This is both painful and traumatizing for the patient making it hard to look towards wellness. But through your help, guidance, and specific instructions, you can push the patient to get better.
- Continuing Education
Many corona-related health diseases are rising, including infections patients contracted in the hospital while getting treated. You need to address these conditions and help patrons find help, including the kind of treatment they need, where they can find it, and how they can look after themselves at home. The community still needs to get educated despite the virus no longer being potent.
Vaccine skepticism is still an issue, and many went through the corona waves without getting a vaccine. It is pivotal you speak with them, try and convince them to take vaccines, and catch up with the necessary shots they need to stay healthy. Food shortage is another issue and requires you to speak with government officials to get to the core of the matter. Starvation and famine bring another set of problems that include malnutrition and need to be acknowledged before it also becomes an epidemic.
The COVID-19 virus has lost most potency even though there is a fourth wave. However, the virus is no longer as lethal and dangerous as back in the first wave. It has caused widespread havoc in its wake, which doesn’t seem to be dimming down anytime soon. But despite the virus no longer being a significant threat to the general population. Unless these issues do not get sorted, getting back on their feet for the people worldwide may be more complex than before.