Many are already suffering from job burnout.
Baltimore, Md. (KM) They’ve been celebrated and honored as heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic. But physicians, nurses and other health care professions who work in hospitals face many challenges, some even before the coronavirus emergency. “Prior to COVID-19, there was already a significant issue in the medical workforce about physician burnout, and nursing burnout as well. Compassion fatigue is another terminology that we use,” says Dr. Aliya Jones, Deputy Secretary of Health for the Behavioral Health Administration.
Among the problems facing hospital staff are the fear of bringing the COVID-19 virus home and infecting their families; or perhaps working long hours and not seeing their families when they want. Dr. Jones says there’s also the financial fears as hospitals lay off staff due to lost revenue from not being able to do elective surgeries. . In Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan recently gave the okay for hospitals in the state to resume elective surgeries.
She says the BHA did an informal survey through the Maryland Hospital Association to find out what hospital were doing, and if they were attending to the behavioral health needs of their staff. “And overwhelmingly the response to that was yes,” says Dr. Jones.
She says hospitals realize it’s important for them to provide for the behavioral health needs fo their physicians, nurses and other medical professionals. . “Some hospitals are doing more rounds on their teams, checking in with their personnel to see how people are doing, providing spaces for people to relax while at work so they can decompress a little bit,” she says.
But Dr. Jones says a lot of health care workers cannot get past the stigma of asking for mental health help if they need it, or telling someone they’re having problems. . “Health care providers in general are not the best at putting up their hands and saying they’re having difficulty,”: she says.
She says health care workers need to get past this stigma, and ask for help in trying to cope. “We’re encouraging hospitals to take a more pro-active approach to reaching into their organisations to make sure that their staff are okay and have the support they need,” says Dr. Jones.
Many people can start asking for that help by dialing 211, and then pressing the number 1. The call is free in Maryland.
By Kevin McManus