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'A Year Like No Other': Maine Medical Center team delivers emotional, heart-wrenching 2020 holiday message

"I know this is really hard and I know that all of you know the things that you need to do, and that gives me hope that we'll get through this," MD Ted Sears said.

PORTLAND, Maine — In a video published Tuesday, Maine Medical Center care team members gave insight into the tragedies, heartbreak, and exhaustion they've been experiencing since March, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage in Maine and across the country.

Titled "A Year Like No Other," MMC doctors and nurses spoke directly to the camera and shared personal stories about how the pandemic has affected themselves, their families, and their patients. While these people are considered heroes, they are also human. The video captures the humanity and stress of what healthcare workers are dealing with each and every day, both at work and at home. 

"I think because you wish you could do more for people and they're just so sick and they can't have anyone there with them," Intensive Care Unit RN Danielle Poulin said as she choked back tears in the video. "And you just can't do anything about it. And you're trying to take care of each other. We're exhausted. We're tired. We're frustrated."

Several of the people featured in the video noted the heartbreak that comes with COVID-19 victims having to say goodbye to their families via video rather than in person.

"Trying to orchestrate conversations between families and their dying loved ones through an iPad has been tragic," Emergency Medicine MD Matthew Sholl said. "I felt that personally. My father passed away from this disease and he had no family members close to him when that happened. And I hate this disease for that."

"Just recently I was in the room holding an iPad. Hearing the kids who are around my age saying goodbye to their dad via Zoom was one of the worst things I've ever seen," Intensive Care Unit RN Kristen Stogsdill said.

"It takes it out of you. It takes a real emotional and mental toll to watch that process happening," Pulmonary and Critical Care MD Ted Sears said. "And not just once, but over and over and over again."

The Maine Medical Center care team says the best way for people to thank them is to listen to health experts and take proper precautions against the virus.

"People ask how they can be supportive and thank us and appreciate all that we're doing," Intensive Care Unit RN Rachel Hunter, who came in on her scheduled vacation because her team needed her, said. "By wearing your masks and keeping us all safe and doing what you can every day to prevent being the next person."

"And we need people, when it's available to the public, to vaccinate," Intensive Care Unit RN Cynthia Dalton added.

"It's really easy to think that this is all being overblown and that people are not telling you the truth but I will tell you it is very real," Sears said. "And there is real pain and real suffering and real death and real long-term disability. I know this is really hard and I know that all of you know the things that you need to do, and that gives me hope that we'll get through this."

Maine Medical Center included the following caption on Facebook:

From our family to yours, we wish you Happy Holidays. This year has been one of the hardest in recent memory and we’re extremely proud of the bravery and resilience our care team members have shown through it all.

Be safe. Be healthy. We're in this until we win this.

RELATED: United Ways of Maine 'Cards for Caregivers' campaign gives Mainers a chance to thank healthcare workers

RELATED: Central Maine Healthcare starts administering Moderna vaccine to hospital staff

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