Disasters such as Hurricane Katrina confer trauma and post-traumatic stress on all the victims including those who care for or support the care of the overt “victims.” National attention has been paid intermittently to uprooted residents, assistance failures (especially from governmental agencies), and remarkably creative humane acts by local and nonlocal people. Highest priority should be paid to patients and victims, but serious consideration in disaster planning and response is also needed in caring for caregivers. These include nurses, physicians, trainees, staffs of health facilities, and administrators who manage the infrastructure that facilitates caregiving. Health professionals are often neglected since their culture promotes reticence to ask for support and assistance. In turn, their support staff, especially legally responsible administrators, are perhaps more invisible. They too live in the community and are torn between their work, facilitating their roles, and their own devastation. Compassion fatigue, a form of post-traumatic stress disorder, is a natural by-product of assisting traumatized and seriously distressed victims. If those healers are lost, either physically from relocating or emotionally because of secondary stress disorders, the ripple effect is enormous for the community.
KEY INDEXING TERMS
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- Figley C. Compassion fatigue: coping with secondary traumatic stress disorder in those who treat the traumatized. Brunner-Mazel, New York1995
- Burnout: Effectively managing a grief syndrome [Special issue]. 4. Bulletin of the Society for Professional Well-Being, Being Well2002: 18
- Preventing compassion fatigue: A team treatment model.in: Figley C. Compassion fatigue: coping with secondary traumatic stress disorder in those who treat the traumatized. Brunner-Mazel, New York1995: 209-231
Accepted: May 21, 2008
Received: May 19, 2008
© 2008 Southern Society for Clinical Investigation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.