Mental health support for health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic

Article in March 2021 issue of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety  Tuesday, February 23 2021

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Katie Bronk  
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(OAKBROOK TERRACE, Illinois, February 23, 2021) – The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented levels of anxiety, insomnia, depression and distress to health care workers, according to preliminary studies.1,2 

A new article in the March 2021 issue of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, “Staff Emotional Support at Montefiore Medical Center During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” details how Montefiore Medical Center (MMC) – located in the Bronx, the borough hardest hit by COVID-19 in New York City – implemented various mental health services to mitigate and treat psychological distress among staff. Interventions implemented during the pandemic included:

  • Psychoeducational resources (including invited presentations, grand rounds and web-based resources)
  • Telephone support line
  • Staff Support Centers (SSCs)
  • Clinical treatment program 
  • Parenting skills and support groups
  • Team support sessions
  • Peer support outreach
  • Mental health and wellness programs 
  • Clergy support 

The most heavily used service was SSCs and the least used service was clergy support. The SSCs were promoted as locations to balance work with self-care and safe places to nurture health care workers’ well-being. They were originally opened with limited hours but quickly expanded to include weekday access. Utilization of SSCs grew from 25 visits on the first day to more than 750 daily visits during the height of the pandemic. There were more than 32,000 visits recorded from March to mid-June 2020. 

The article highlights “some useful psychologically based interventions, but these cannot be undertaken in isolation from practical steps such as good communication, appropriate training, access to personal protective equipment (PPE), adequate rest and practical support,” adds an accompanying editorial by Steve Kisely, MD, PhD, DMedRes.

Also featured in the March issue:  

For more information, visit The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety website.  

1Lai J, et al. Factors associated with mental health outcomes among health care workers exposed to coronavirus disease 2019. JAMA Netw Open. 2020 Mar 2;3:e203976. 
2Pappa S, et al. Prevalence of depression, anxiety, and insomnia among healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Brain Behav Immun. 2020;88:901–907.

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Note for editors  
The article is “Staff Emotional Support at Montefiore Medical Center During the COVID-19 Pandemic” by Carol A. Bernstein, MD; Sriya Bhattacharyya, PhD; Shelby Adler; and Jonathan E. Alpert, MD, PhD. The article appears in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, volume 47, number 3 (March 2021), published by Elsevier.  
 
The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety  
The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety (JQPS) is a peer-reviewed journal providing health care professionals with innovative thinking, strategies and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. JQPS is the official journal of The Joint Commission and Joint Commission Resources, Inc. Original case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or the new application of methodologies, research studies, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

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  • Critical Access Hospital