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While the "Operation Gridlock" protest was going on in downtown Denver on Sunday, April 19, 2020, a couple of physician assistants who live in the neighborhood stood in a crosswalk on Grant Street near the Colorado state Capitol. They said they work in a Denver hospital with COVID-19 patients and wanted to remind the protesters of who is on the front line fighting the virus.  They stood in the crosswalk between red lights for over an hour.

Healthcare workers in Colorado and elsewhere are warning about increased levels of stress, anxiety and burnout due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CPR reports.

“Burnout amongst health care workers, especially in the ICU pre-pandemic was at epidemic proportions already,” Anuj Mehta, a pulmonologist at National Jewish Health, told the station. “And it's only worse now. It's going to be a reckoning that we all have to face.”

The University of Colorado is now using federal grants to provide free mental health assistance for medical employees, including through support groups, individual counseling and a multipart series on resiliency.

“This has been a growing crisis in the medical community with surveys suggesting the incidence as high as 50% among practicing physicians,” wrote the authors of a study published in June in Pain Physician Journal about burnout in the profession.

Their survey of 100 American physicians in late April found a majority indicated they were burnt out, but also that nearly three-quarters felt that way previously in their careers. The most common sources of stress were finances, administrative burdens and the uncertainty of the pandemic.

However, the threat from the pandemic may be more nuanced: a survey of 190 medical professionals in China found that front-line workers handling COVID-19 patients felt less burnout than those working in their usual assignments. 

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