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Focusing on Care Teams’ Emotional Health and Healing

As we begin 2022 and enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, care teams are responding to the pandemic amid cases of the new Omicron variant surging, flu cases rising, and millions of people still unvaccinated. Health center teams who may have been stressed, strained, and burned out before, are now experiencing emotional exhaustion. They are also experiencing moral injury and distress. These are emotions and bodily changes that accompany a disconnect between what you believe is right and good, and what you are able to do or what you see happening around you.

“At this point in the pandemic we are tired, not even physically tired, but we are mentally exhausted, so trying to give our employees an outlet to be verbal about what they are experiencing with that burden is critical,” says Ronda Arline, Director of Nursing, Albany Area Primary Health Care, Albany, GA. “With this pandemic, our employees have lost parents, siblings, and even children so in order to help them, you have to consider their personal lives on top of things constantly changing in the clinics which are busy outside of COVID.”

NACHC is addressing moral injury and distress with health centers to strengthen their workplace culture. In the NACHC presentation, “A Path to Healing for the Workforce,” Senior Fellows Jennie McLaurin, MD, MPH, FAAP, Wanda Montalvo, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Grace Wang, MD, MPH, FAAFP discussed the impact and trauma on the workforce resulting from the pandemic. The presentation illustrated staff resources to assist healing, including poetry exercises, and examples of grief walking methods.

“As our health care teams continue to push through this pandemic response, we must acknowledge and meet our provider teams where they are,” says Dr. Wanda Montalvo, Phd, RN, FAAN. Read more in our new blog.

 

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