In summer 2015, a Saudi 1000-bed tertiary care hospital experienced a serious outbreak among patients of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS); during which, some healthcare providers contracted the virus, but none died. The outbreak provoked not only fear and stress; but also professional, emotional, ethical, and social conflicts and tension among healthcare providers and patients alike. Therefore, this study aims to explore what healthcare providers, who survived coronavirus infection, have experienced as a MERS patient and how the infection affected their relationship with their colleagues.

Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were conducted individually with seven survivors (healthcare providers). Each interview lasted up to 90 min, and the data were analysed using the thematic analysis technique. Within the participants’ rich and illuminating experiences, four themes were identified: caring for others in the defining moments, perceived prejudice behaviours and stigmatisation, lived moments of traumatic fear and despair, and denial and underestimation of the seriousness of the disease at the individual and organisational levels. Survivors still suffered as a result of their traumatic experiences, which might negatively influence their performance. As these survivors are vulnerable, it is their organisation’s responsibility to provide a system that embraces HCPs during and after disastrous events