MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Burned out and frustrated. That’s how some members of Minnesota’s medical community describe the situation inside Twin Cities hospitals nearly two years into the pandemic.

WCCO sat down with a team who were the first people to step up. We saw the very different paths they are on today.

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“I still cannot wrap my head that this has all happened in the span of two years,” Emily Allen, a registered nurse, said.

They were there from day one — when last March St. Paul’s Bethesda Hospital pivoted to COVID care. That where 1,000 patients came through over seven months; 131 died.

Angie Whitley was the former nurse manager at Bethesda.

“There are days I still struggle. I probably will for a long time, but I’ve found new meaning,” Whitley said.

Sending this group of health care workers, in some cases, far away from such settings.

Whitley went to work with the health department traveling across the state giving vaccinations to people struggling with the decision.

“To be able to sort of share my story a little bit and say, ‘Can I tell you why this is important,'” she said.

Dr. Erica Kuhlmann is a pulmonologist at M Health Fairview.

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“People put up with a lot for a long time. Like, nurses and doctors, we’re good that, we’re so good at that. But then there’s a breaking point,” Kuhlmann said.

Half of the women WCCO spoke with last year left COVID care for new roles.

“I just needed to step away from the bedside. They call and text every single day, triple, doubles bonuses, I won’t pick up. I can’t,” Allen said.

Laura Triplett another registered nurse agreed.

“It’s just starting to drag me down again. I also decreased what I work at work and I don’t pick up the phone either to pick up extra days,” she said.

While they credit the vaccine with saving lives, it’s also created what they call hostility among some of the unvaccinated clinging to treatment ideas of their own and the domino effect that decision has played for others.

“I’ve never felt like a bad guy being someone’s doctor, but I do now, and that’s really hard for me,” Kuhlmann said.

Believing the only way forward is through, pledging continued compassion through years they never imagined.

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“We’re all expressing that we’re burned out, but I promise you I don’t take care of anyone differently than when I first became a nurse,” Allen said.