Physician and Nurse Burn-out – Part XVII. Post-Pandemic Blues

After all the previous pandemics that affected Humankind, there has always been a trove of physical and mental health sequelae for the involved caregivers. But the COVID-19 pandemic has  been especially taxing for the nurses, physicians, technicians, auxiliary personnel, etc., of the treating health care institutions. Now that the pandemic seems to be easing off, or at least become an endemic process, the Public Health and Health Care administration experts are reviewing the data and comparing it to previous pandemics and their aftermath. Rachel Schwartz reviewed 97 articles addressing the clinical mental health problems in COVID 19 and other pandemics. They found 7 major themes:

  1. Need for resilience and stress reduction training
  2. Provide clinicians’ basic needs (food, drink, adequate rest, quarantine-appropriate housing, transportation, childcare, personal protective gear)
  3. Importance of specialized training for pandemic-induced changes in job roles.
  4. Recognition and clear communication from leadership.
  5. Acknowledgement of and strategies for addressing moral injury.
  6. The need for peer and special support interventions.
  7. Normalization and provision of mental health support programs.

The authors emphasize that administrative cadres in health care institutions must take a pro-active support of physicians and nurses as they are known to be very reluctant to seek clinical support on time and they usually relegate their own needs.

Note. This US Navy recruiting poster from World War II was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

In an American Medical Association (AMA) news release, Jennifer Lubell informed us: “Fallout from Hurricane Ida and the COVID-19 pandemic led to the high levels of burnout and post-traumatic stress disorders among employees if Ochsner Health. But help is on the way. Armed with 2.9 million in federal funds, the large Louisiana-based health system plans to breathe new life into its workforce through seven evidence-based wellness programs.” They are:

  1. Johnson and Johnson Resilience Training: aims to protect mental and physical health of employees and deliver good health outcomes.
  2. Personal Leadership Program: aims to support senior leaders, physicians, nonphysicians clinicians in their professional advancement initiatives.
  3. Peer Resilience Program: supports those promising employees with well-defined practical protocols that they can use to face adverse situations.
  4. Institute for HealthCare Improvement: this program is especially directed at nursing personnel, and we discussed it in our article about Nurse Turn-Over.
  5. Cabana by Even Health: it allows staff to share challenges, successes, and strategies for addressing health care providers’ concerns.
  6. Schwartz Rounds: allows professionals to have regularly scheduled times to discuss critical issues in their organizations.
  7. Employee Assistance Programs: include departments where issues ranging from labor, family, financial, drug addiction and alcohol, divorce, etc. are discussed to help the employees.

One of the most contentious issues in the care of professional cadres is their aversion to reveal their mental health problems to colleagues and superiors alike for fear of “some social censure” or its impact in their advancement prospects. For that reason, the Cabana project has the possibility for concerned individuals to create an avatar that would mask their identities while they are participating in group therapy under the direction of a licensed behavioral health specialist.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

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Don’t leave me alone.