An Unattended Ticking Bomb Necessitates Immediate Treatment

An Unattended Ticking Bomb Necessitates Immediate Treatment

On October 7, hospitals and medical establishments across the country began to fill with wounded individuals from the southern region. Despite the ongoing war and filled hospitals, the medical staff’s need to care for themselves became evident, especially given the traumatic experiences they encountered.

Dr. Ilan Volkov, a psychiatrist and medical director at MindMe, a center for advanced psychiatric treatment, shares his experiences. He explains the challenges faced by a doctor who had been on reserves for four months and is now back treating patients in a hospital. The constant shift from a high-paced emergency routine to a normal routine provides little opportunity for these doctors to seek treatment for their mental health.

He underscores the importance of treating those who care for the wounded. A disconnected doctor, traumatized by their experiences, may be less successful in connecting with patients and providing effective treatment. This is not only detrimental to the patient but also to the doctor themselves.

Dr. Volkov, as a caregiver to caregivers, also attests to the need for his own mental support. He and his colleagues at the medical center hold a Zoom call every evening to share experiences and provide mutual support. However, he acknowledges that the current system is not equipped to handle the large wave of trauma that will follow the war, despite increased awareness of the need for mental health treatment.

Dr. Yona Luria, a medical psychologist at Shaari Tzedek Hospital, explains the term “second-degree casualties”. This refers to the medical staff who, despite being used to seeing difficult scenes, are affected by the sheer amount of traumatic events since October 7. The stress and burnout affect their ability to effectively treat patients.

At Shaari Tzedek Hospital, they have opened a personal emergency room to help all residents, including the medical staff, cope with the mental health challenges. The interventions have proven to be effective, providing short-term relief that makes a significant difference to the situation.

The Sheba Medical Center has a similar system designed to support the mental health of its employees, according to Yael Efrati, a medical psychologist. They offer various treatments and group support to help staff process their daily experiences. The aim is to prevent any “second-degree casualties.”

Mazit Rafman, a coach and marriage counselor, highlights the human aspect of doctors, often overlooked due to their caregiver roles. Doctors not only have to deal with the traumatic experiences at work but also the effects of these experiences on their personal lives. Rafman emphasizes the importance of doctors seeking treatment for their traumas, as untreated trauma is like a ticking time bomb.

Rafman also advises reducing exposure to the media to lessen anxiety and the triggering of traumatic experiences. She concludes by acknowledging the need for attention and treatment for doctors, who are the ones taking care of everyone else during these challenging times.