Well-being is an Important MedStar Health Initiative

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Provider burnout is not a new issue. Conversations about the difficulty of working in healthcare and the toll this job takes have been happening for decades.

Recently, we have begun to realize just how profound these effects can be. These issues became worse when the pandemic reached our hospital. Many providers were finding themselves working in complex conditions, while managing an unknown and difficult new disease. At the same time, many were coordinating interruptions in childcare, and worrying about the safety of their own families.

With this in mind, MedStar Health responded by putting together a robust system-wide response to support its providers. We knew that support would require tending to both the workplace and home life stressors. Therefore, we expanded the Care.com backup adult and childcare program, to make sure that all associates and providers were covered.

We set up a series of Recharge Stations across the system. Recharge Stations are spaces designed for our providers and associates to be able to step into to relax, grab a healthy drink or snack, and pick up materials about various ongoing wellness efforts. The most up-to-date list of recharge stations and well-being programs can be found on our website, www.medstarhealth.org/wellbeing.

We also realized that sometimes people were simply too busy to actively seek out the resources. We launched an initiative called “wellness rounds.” Through this initiative, our teams will arrive on the frontline units to let teams know about various wellness resources and give providers and associates an opportunity to take a few minutes out of their day to connect and discuss their concerns.

These rounds were designed to focus a small part of the day on others’ well-being. With time, this initiative has grown exponentially, and we have recruited large groups of volunteers to assist with the effort. All volunteers go through our peer-support training. In fact, we established a 24/7 hotline for peer support to make sure that this hub was available anytime somebody would need it. For others who prefer a formal mental health appointment to discuss their needs, we also put in place and expedited mental health appointment program that would ensure that our associates and providers could get plugged in with a provider within two business days.

If you have any questions, please visit our website. For the Care for the Caregiver/Peer to Peer Support, call 866-674-9355 (866-MSH-WELL) or email c4c@medstar.net.

Dr. Marchalik is medical director of Physician Well-being at MedStar Health, director of the Kidney Stone Program at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and an associate professor of Urology at the Georgetown University School of Medicine.

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