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Baptist Health Collaboration

Baptist Health and the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Centerstone are teaming up to help support frontline heroes fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 has significantly impacted lives across the globe and the burden of providing support to those affected by this pandemic has fallen primarily on healthcare workers.  At the heart of the unparalleled crisis of COVID-19, healthcare workers face several challenges treating patients with the virus: reducing the spread of infection; developing suitable short-term strategies; and formulating long-term plans. Meanwhile, these workers must also continue to successfully treat non-COVID patients and maintain personal responsibilities, including taking care of their families and themselves.  The psychological burden and overall wellness of this population has received heightened awareness in news and research publications with reports continuing to show high rates of burnout, psychological stress, and suicide.

“Healthcare workers experience emotional exhaustion, which may lead to medical errors, lack of empathy in treating patients, lower productivity, and higher turnover rates,” Elizabeth Sherr, Director of the Cohen Clinic at Centerstone said. “The ability of healthcare providers to adequately cope with stressors is important for their patients, their families, and themselves and that’s why we are grateful to be collaborating with one of our areas most prominent healthcare entities, Baptist Health, to help ensure this population is supported in these difficult times.”

This project began when Rich Morton, Implementation Director, Operations and Readiness, Baptist Health, contacted the Cohen Clinic at Centerstone to discuss leveraging staff’s experience with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS).  As an Army veteran, Rich saw the signs of PTS in Baptist healthcare workers as the pandemic worsened and sought to partner with the clinic.

“Due to the pandemic our Baptist team was forced to provide not only medical care but more emotional support than normal as families could not visit our patients,” Morton said. “Our nurses were on the frontline professionally and emotionally so we wanted to work with the Centerstone team to develop a program of support.”

After several meetings, Sherr developed a “Leader’s Reference Guide to Improving Mental Health and Cohesion of Nursing Staff during COVID” that outlines warning signs, positive steps leaders can take, and resources.  This guide provides specific actions leaders can implement during this pandemic to ensure their teams maintain their mental health.

“As we were developing the guide, I knew it was important that leaders be frank about the situations staff are likely to face,” said Liz.  “Staff can be supported by reinforcing teams and providing regular contact to discuss decisions and check on well-being.”

The Leader’s Reference Guide will become part of an ongoing program of healthcare worker support within Baptist Health.  As part of this program a video is being developed for Baptist leaders to emphasize their support for their team and provide advice on how to effectively utilize the guide.

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