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#RunningonEmpty: Alberta healthcare workers share exhausted post-shift photos

Last Updated Jan 20, 2022 at 7:28 am MDT

Young serious overworked, male mature health care worker sitting looking down very sad

Alberta’s frontline healthcare workers are trending on social media, sharing images of themselves after exhaustive pandemic shifts with the hashtag #RunningOnEmpty.

On Monday, Dr. Neeja Bashki shared an image of herself following a shift at Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital.

The photo shows Bashki’s red eyes and marks left on her face by PPE.

“Our leaders cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the truth,” her tweet reads.

Her tweet’s been liked thousands of times, with many others showing their support.

Bashki encouraged other doctors and nurses to also share photos of themselves to try and show how much of a toll the situation has taken.

“Wondering how my fellow front liners will heal from this trauma,” another frontline worker wrote, sharing an image of themselves in a face shield, mask, and scrubs.

Another healthcare worker, who’s identified himself on social media as a respiratory therapist, shared a photo of himself wearing scrubs after what he described as three back-to-back four hour transfers during a snow storm

“I had been working 20+ hrs at this point and on 1hr of sleep in 40 hrs. Being the only RT in one of the lowest vaccinated areas in Canada sucks sometimes,” his tweet reads.

The situation has gotten so dire for some that they’ve been forced to leave the industry altogether.

One person, whose Twitter bio describes them as a pediatric nurse practitioner, says they couldn’t take it any more.

Handed in my resignation after almost 36 years in healthcare. Quit, not retired. Filled with grief and guilt. Exhausted. #RunningOnEmpty I hope that I can return to helping others after I’ve rested,” the tweet reads. 

Frontline healthcare workers say many of their colleagues are calling in sick, leaving them understaffed and having to work even longer hours.

NDP MLA and health critic David Shepherd says the UCP government needs to come out and provide an update on the hospital situation in Alberta.

“Beds are full and staff are scrambling to find space for patients in rooms and hallways. The pressure on our hospitals is growing at an extremely concerning rate,” Shepherd said at a Wednesday news conference.

“After two years, Alberta’s healthcare heroes are running on empty as they deal with massive patient demand while many of their colleagues are out sick. Yet, we have heard no plan from the UCP government. We haven’t even heard an acknowledgment of the situation.

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“Doctors are raising the alarm, describing the situation in some major hospitals as chaos,” he added.

CityNews has confirmed Alberta Health Services CEO Dr. Verna Yiu will be at Thursday’s COVID-19 update to address concerns in the healthcare system.

She will be joined by Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.