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Free COVID-19 hotline for physicians connects doctors with help to fight pandemic

The hotline gives doctors a chance to talk with other doctors about the stresses of treating COVID-19 patients.

COLORADO, USA — The doctors fighting this pandemic can sometimes seem invincible – yet, they say everyone has a breaking point. 

After a year and a half of battling the COVID-19 virus, more doctors are now reaching out for help. A peer support program pairs doctors together to talk about the challenges they’re all facing.

"Everybody has their limits and what a lot of doctors have gone through over this past year and a half has been insurmountable," said Dr. Scott Humphreys, medical director of the Colorado Physician Health Program.

After a year and a half of fighting a deadly virus face-to-face every day, doctors need help – Humphreys is on the other end of the call ready to talk.

Humphreys is a psychiatrist along with his position at the Colorado Physician Health Program, a non-profit that promotes the health of doctors and physicians’ assistants. The organization started a free hotline for any Colorado doctor treating COVID-19 patients needing another doctor to talk to about the stresses of the pandemic. They’re getting more calls now than anytime over the past year.

"Over the past few months, we’ve seen a significant uptick and that’s because we thought we had the light at the end of the tunnel and instead we’re dealing with these variants, the ICU’s are filling back up and everybody is already exhausted," said Humphreys. "A lot of the times, the doctor will just say, you know what, I’ve just had it and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do now. How do I go on?"

A team of doctors from the Colorado Physician Health Program share the duties of picking up the calls. They’re seeing doctors concerned about treating patients, their families and underlying conditions coming back because of the stress.

While there are plenty of call lines that help people dealing with mental health crises, this one is directly focused on doctors helping other doctors. They can understand the challenges they’re going through right now and better connect them with the help they need.

One of the biggest challenges Dr. Humphreys said he hears about from doctors is having to wear all the masks and goggles and everything else that creates a barrier between them and the people they’re treating. It takes away the humanity of talking to someone face-to-face and letting them actually be able to see the doctor they’re talking to.

"Psychologically, we were ill prepared for this," said Humphreys. "We didn’t know that we’d have to be choosing who gets live-saving treatment and who we have to leave to be sick and potentially die."

Now Humphreys wants every doctor to know there’s help, even for those used to helping others.

Click here for more information about the care line for physicians.  

Credit: KUSA