COVID-19 is impacting healthcare workforce member wellness. In the recent JAMA article entitled, Understanding and Addressing Sources of Anxiety Among Health Care Professionals During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the authors summarize administrative and leadership strategies for supporting healthcare worker wellness during the pandemic, based on pandemic-related sources of anxiety expressed by physicians, nurses and other healthcare staff during listening sessions.
The authors highlight the negative effects workforce stress can have on the delivery of healthcare and encourage healthcare administrators and leadership to relieve physician and staff anxieties during this unprecedented time by recognizing and responding to the following requests:
- Recognize the expertise of front-line workers
- Hear their concerns to inform an organization-wide response to the epidemic
- Develop specific feedback channels for front line workers to communicate with leadership
- Ensure access to adequate PPE
- Provide information on how to protect themselves and their families from infection
- Provide accommodation for healthcare workers at increased risk of serious infection
- Ensure access to testing if healthcare workers get ill
- Provide adequate training for unfamiliar work (e.g. non-ICU MD’s and nurses caring for critically ill patients)
- Particularly in an uncertain and quickly changing environment, communicate clearly and often
- Provide decision-support when making difficult and unfamiliar decisions
- Provide family support to allow healthcare workers to continue working without abandoning their families
- Ensure basic human physical and psychological needs of healthcare workers are met
- Educate HCW’s about self-care in difficult times
- Interactive webinars
- Spiritual and/or psychological support
Care for Me
- Provide support if a healthcare worker and/or their family gets ill and needs to be quarantined
- Information about or assistance with:
- Medical care
- Paid time off
- Care coach/health navigator
The foregoing bullet point content was excerpted from PowerPoint slides used by Ann Weinacker, MD during a Medical Professional Liability Association webinar on April 20, 2020 entitled “Supporting Clinicians During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The content is reproduced with Dr. Weinacker’s permission.
Mount Sinai Health System created Pandemic Workforce Well-Being: A Comprehensive Toolkit for Supporting Our Own During COVID-19, which illustrates strategies that fulfill the goals outlined in the JAMA article summarized above.
Healthcare Workforce Wellness Resources for Administrators and Leadership
Leadership and administrators can demonstrate caring and commitment in various ways. The following resources provide strategies for leadership and administrators to hear, protect, prepare, support and care for physicians and staff during the pandemic.
American Medical Association: Caring for Our Caregivers During COVID-19
This webpage provides practical strategies that healthcare leadership can use to support physicians and care team members during the pandemic.
American Medical Association: Coping with COVID-19 for Caregivers Survey Tools
The AMA has developed two short anonymous survey tools designed to provide organizations with information about how COVID-19 is affecting clinician/staff health and wellness on an ongoing basis. The tool can be used to track trends in stress levels, identify specific drivers of stress and provide direction for developing supportive infrastructures. The survey results are administered at no cost by the AMA.
National Academy of Medicine: Resources to Support the Health and Well-Being of Clinicians During the COVID-19 Outbreak
This webpage provides resources on how to support the health and well-being of clinicians during public health emergencies, including the COVID-19 response.
U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs: Managing Healthcare Workers’ Stress Associated with the COVID-19 Virus Outbreak
This web page describes institutional strategies to anticipate the stresses associated with caring for patients during the pandemic and put in place supports for healthcare workers.
Wellness Resources for Physicians and Staff
American College of Physicians: COVID-19: Practical Advice and Support from Internists on the Front Lines
During this webinar, Drs. Barrett and Poorman share lessons learned and best practices from both the inpatient and outpatient front lines of the COVID-19 global pandemic. They provide tips for how physicians can support one another while protecting their own well-being.
Thrive Global and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: First Responders First
This initiative strives to give first responders the tools they need to care for their mental health and build resilience during the pandemic. Those tools come in the form of Microsteps, or small, actionable steps that can be added to first responders existing routines to safeguard their well-being. These Microsteps will help first responders maintain their “service mindset” while also taking care of themselves and avoiding burnout,
American Academy of Family Physicians: Grassroots Advocacy Tools for Responding to COVID-19
This webpage provides guidance for physicians to tell state or federal representatives what is happening in their practice during the pandemic. Advocacy for change can relieve feelings of helplessness. Other specialty societies may have toolkits similar to this AAFP resource.
Walter Reed Army Institute of Research: COVID-19 iCOVER-Med Rapid Peer Based Management of Acute Stress in Medical Teams
iCOVER-Med is a protocol healthcare workers can use to help a team member who is overwhelmed by stress.
Center for Health and Wellness: Heal the Healers Now
Heal the Healers Now,” is an initiative to bring no-cost stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation® technique to medical providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
American College of Emergency Physicians: Dining, Accommodation, Childcare discounts for Healthcare Workers
The ACEP, similar to other organizations, has collected a list of the various healthcare provider service discounts being offered during the pandemic. Additionally, medical students are offering child and pet care services to healthcare providers in some areas. See, for example, COVIDsitter Network.