By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Many health care workers were too busy to see the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds flyover salute to frontline workers Tuesday. But some at hospitals around the region were able to watch the tribute.

Many health care workers who are putting their lives on the line to treat COVID-19 patients say it’s traumatic, but they’re dedicated.

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They appreciate the outpouring of support they’ve received from the community.

Tuesday’s high-flying salute over Philadelphia and Trenton gave thanks to the frontline coronavirus workers, many in hospitals who are saving lives.

“It’s incredibly heartwarming and amazing to be acknowledged. I just hope that we’re really inclusive and thoughtful about everybody that’s working hard during this time,” Penn Medicine Dr. Jill Baren said.

Coronavirus Latest: Blue Angels, Thunderbirds Salute Philadelphia Region Health Care Workers With Flyover

Baren is on the frontlines in the emergency department at Penn, where thousands of COVID-19 patients have been treated.

“We have less volume of patients but the patients that we’re seeing are much sicker,” Baren said.

She suspects COVID-19 could be causing a cascade of serious complications, like strokes.

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“It’s just so overwhelming, all of the different dimensions,” Baren said.

Baren herself was infected and had a long rollercoaster of typical symptoms, along with unusual ones, like back pain.

“Probably the most profound symptoms I had were gastrointestinal,” she said.

Now back at work, she says, along with intense patient care, there’s extra work staying safe with protective measures and gear.

“It’s very difficult physically to work under those circumstances,” Baren said.


Experts say many frontline coronavirus health care workers are experiencing traumatic stress. Doctors and nurses are feeling emotionally and physically wiped out.

“Long after this is over, I believe we will be seeing far-reaching effects of this kind of sustained trauma on health care providers,” Baren said.

But that’s not just in the medical community. Baren says everyone is suffering through this pandemic and we could all use some TLC.

Baren is among the thousands of health care workers who’ve been infected with COVID-19. They’re cleared to go back to work after symptoms have cleared and with a negative test.

Baren says taking care of our own health is also important. Baren thinks she must have some immunity but it’s unclear if people can be reinfected.

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She has signed up for antibody testing and is also willing to donate plasma, which is being researched as a treatment.

Stephanie Stahl