This study aims at investigating the nature of resilience and stress experience of health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirteen healthcare workers from Italian and Austrian hospitals specifically dealing with COVID-19 patients during the first phase of the pandemic were interviewed. Data was analysed using grounded theory methodology. Psychosocial effects on stress experience, stressors and resilience factors were identified. We generated three hypotheses. Hypothesis one is that moral distress and moral injury are main stressors experienced by healthcare workers. Hypothesis two states that organisational resilience plays an important part in how healthcare workers experience the crisis. Organisational justice and decentralized decision making are essential elements of staff wellbeing. Hypothesis three refers to effective psychosocial support: Basic on scene psychosocial support based on the Hobfoll principles given by trusted and well-known mental health professionals and peers in an integrated approach works best during the pandemic.