Healthcare is a demanding industry. There are a LOT of emotions associated with each experience, from the high highs of saving a life to the low lows of losing one. In recent months due to the COVID-19 crisis, healthcare professionals have endured mentally and physically grueling work conditions never before experienced. These doctors, nurses, and other direct care staff are not only entrusted with safeguarding patients’ physical health but also their feelings. They have taken on the enormous responsibility of maintaining interpersonal connections and providing additional support to both patients and their families as they have been forced to remain apart.
During this unprecedented time, who has been there to ensure the staff’s well-being as they go through these same situations? We are all human, so the happiness and sorrows of any healthcare encounter are felt by all parties involved and need to be equally recognized and respected.
Before the onset of the pandemic, an ALTIUS client implemented a program centered around enhanced employee wellness. This organization centralized related services and benefits through a dedicated department with specially trained staff available to provide emotional support for employees struggling with job-related stressors. The area was also equipped with small rooms that offer staff the quiet and privacy needed to escape the “pain” of certain events. The goal was to create a space where employees could go to process their feelings and heal.
One of the key elements that set this program apart is the role that the hospital’s leadership took. Executives frequently round to check-in on employees, stopping to talk or delivering baskets of treats to boost morale and promote a positive work environment. Unlike EAPs or other comparable services, the staff is directly supported by their co-workers, which adds a unique, personal touch that leaves a lasting impact.
Now, more than ever, programs like this are critical to validating what staff are going through, building a “team” culture that embraces the support of its members and avoiding staff burnout. Forward-thinking concepts like this deserve to be highlighted and shared to encourage other hospitals and health systems to consider similar approaches within their organizations, not only to combat the impacts of COVID-19 but also for the betterment of all.
“There are moments when troubles enter our lives, and we can do nothing to avoid them. But they are there for a reason. Only when we have overcome them, we will understand why they were there.”
– Paulo Coelho