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KU Health System respiratory workers quit

Citing "exhaustion and frustration" 15 respiratory therapists have left the University of Kansas Health System in the past few weeks.

Posted: Sep 16, 2021 9:56 AM

(KANSAS CITY, Ks.) A Kansas City area health system lost more than a dozen workers in less than a month.

Citing "exhaustion and frustration" 15 respiratory therapists have left the University of Kansas Health System in the past few weeks.

“A lot of the health care community is feeling burnout and feeling pressure because people don't think it's real and it's very real,” Julie Rojas a Respiratory Therapist said.

That's about 10 percent of the respiratory workforce in the health system.

One of the therapists, Julie Rojas, said it's affecting the whole hospital during a news briefing Tuesday.

"There are some weeks that I'm here at the hospital more than I'm at home and your coworkers become like your family. They understand the things that you see and deal with and so it's hard for us to lose them,” Rojas said.

The burnout is widespread.

According to the American Hospital Association, about 30 percent of healthcare workers across the country are considering leaving their jobs.

With 60 percent reporting impacts to their mental health over the last 18 months.

“The work feels heavy. As she mentioned the house has been full,” Jace Knutson, an ICU Pharmacist said.

Knutson says the hope many healthcare workers felt when the vaccine was greenlit is now gone.

"I think seeing where our vaccination rates are, and where our hospitalization rates are, and the complications and the death that are coming with that. It's really frustrating to know that a lot of this mortality and morbidity is completely preventable,” Knutson said.

Rojas says she carries each death with her.

"Back in the winter family members couldn't come up and so it would be just me and nurse in there with the family on an iPad and I would be holding the patient's hand until the very end so that someone was in there with them and it stays with you." Rojas said.

She says she thinks many in her field are getting out because they are sick of continuing to see so much needless death.

“Just to know right now that we could possibly prevent that just from a shot, is what really I think affects a lot of us emotionally,” Rojas said.

Rojas also said during the briefing that KU Health System's vaccine mandate hasn't really affected the people she works with because most of her coworkers support it.

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