Every year we mark a week as “National Hospital Week,” an opportunity to honor our nation’s hospitals and those who staff them in service of their communities. Now, more than ever, this week is important to recognize and support medical staff that continue to provide unwavering service, courage, and sacrifice on a day-to-day and during a worldwide pandemic.
Support Medical Staff and Their Mental Health
As healthcare leaders are reminded each year during this week to stop and show appreciation to every single person that staffs their hospitals, remember to look for ways to better support their medical staff as burnout is only increasing. 93% of healthcare workers have experienced stress, 86% faced anxiety, 77% reported frustration, 76% endured exhaustion and burnout, and 75% said they were overwhelmed this past year. 
Below are just a few helpful tips on improving the support for our everyday heroes:
- Encourage your healthcare workers to give feedback on how they feel, what has inspired them to continue through the pandemic, and what measures they feel can help improve their work-life. This feedback can be in the form of random surveys, “feedback/suggestion” boxes, or even implementing an “office time” each week with the director or (even better) the CEO. This office time can be via a Zoom meeting, phone call, or in-person visit. Regardless of the method, it reminds each and every worker that they are appreciated, cared for, and respected.
- Present personalized “thank you” cards or gifts given out by each department and the volunteers that serve in them.
“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
– Andrew Carnegie
- Look at the reasons for healthcare burnout and have a meeting with leadership to discuss solutions for each aspect. Here are just some of the solutions you may consider:
- Offer a 24/7 hotline for psychosocial support.
- Offer self-care classes, workshops, free therapy sessions, and exercise classes like meditation, yoga, and tai chi to help reduce the stress they face every day.
- Outsource to supply the hospital with necessary support staff such as healthcare screeners, transportation aides, nurses, and so on. This will help with the added stress of filling shifts that the current nurses and staff need to take on.
- Reduce the administrative tasks that burden a physician and nurse’s workday with the support of a medical scribe. Medical scribes will allow the physicians more time in the day to see more patients, get home on time, remove the administrative tasks done after hours and improve the patient/ provider experience.
- Stand up to Congress on issues that healthcare workers face every day. You might, for example, advocate to increase the protective equipment for front-line workers or find a solution to the continued added billing requirements.
- Support the healthcare workers that have children by offering free childcare. The pandemic has pushed parents to the edge with school closures, quarantines, or mandates to continue working. If they are relieved knowing their children are in good hands, that will minimize the stress that is forced upon them on a frequent basis.
“It is not the strongest that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
– Charles Darwin
Adaptation is a vital trait of any healthcare leader. This is even more apparent since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The pandemic has been unlike any other crisis in modern history—from the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and loss of life to the quarantine situations that affected staff schedules and new modes of care delivery. They are all a testament to how a true healthcare leader must see and persevere daily.
It is important to take on these challenges with an empathetic and open mind, to see past the operational logistics of running a hospital and recognize the mental health of the workers. Patients are, and should always be, the priority. But when we diminish or neglect the mental health of the workers that serve them, patients’ well-being will suffer. Healthcare workers need to have the support of their leadership so a strong and resilient workforce can be made and maintained.
“The greatest asset of a company is its people.”
– Jorge Paulo Lemann
Written by: Nicole Bramblett, MHA