The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world as we know it, affecting the way we do business, how we spend our money, and where we spend time. Unfortunately, it has also strained the US healthcare infrastructure to breaking point, leaving thousands of healthcare workers to exhaustion. In fact, 30% of frontline healthcare workers and 43% of nurses say they are considering quitting their jobs.
With so many medical professionals and nurses leaving the profession during the Great Resignation, health care facilities have struggled to maintain a flow of patients. This has put pressure on the remaining resources and personnel. As there is more pressure in the medical profession than ever before, your healthcare staff will likely face relentless demands on their time. In this landscape, it is important to support employees so that they can continue to care for their communities.
Take care of your employees, take care of the community
Already, some countries are taking measures to develop new health care systems and reorganize their resources to take into account the need for health care workers. According to The Hill, Hawaii released a plan to renew its standards of crisis care in September, and Tennessee announced it was restricting the use of some COVID-19 treatments to unvaccinated individuals.
How will the medical field change in the future under these changes? In short, support in the workplace will become even more important. If you want to continue providing care to your community, you must learn how to support team members. Fortunately, there are a number of ways your healthcare facility can go forward to achieve this mission:
1. Show your employees that you value them.
When it comes to showing appreciation, actions speak louder than words. You might consider hosting an appreciation lunch, sending Starbucks gift cards to your employees, or making sure employees have time to run errands during long hours.
One Denver community developed “Doctors’ Lunches,” an effort that allows medical workers to order lunches from local restaurants (which the community then pays for). No matter what you do, your team members will appreciate the tangible way your facility shows its thanks.
2. Ask the employees what they care about, and then say goodbye.
With so much pressure in the medical profession, health care workers face countless challenges and struggles. Since you may not know the best move to take, consider taking a survey or checking in regularly with employees to see what they need. If there is a solution you can offer, follow it.
One common demand now is telehealth services. According to research by Aisha Siraj, Najjar Salehi and Saima Karim, healthcare workers strongly prefer the use of telemedicine technology due to the extent of the contagion of the Coronavirus. With this massive call for the possibilities of virtual care, you must find ways to implement new technologies and processes when possible.
3. Prioritize the mental health of medical professionals.
Research says the stress of the pandemic has had a severe impact on people, which is cause for concern. Your frontline employees are under extreme stress, and if they feel unsupported at work, it can negatively affect their mental health.
Find ways to support employees by providing time off when needed, allowing breaks for activities and healthy meals, hosting educational seminars on stress management techniques, and partnering with a mental health benefits provider. Also, be sure to share resources with them, like the Doctors Support Line, meditation and sleep apps like HeadspaceAnd and online toolkits such as those provided by Mount Sinai and UNC Health.
To show your employees support in the workplace and help them perform even under stressful circumstances, you must do your best to show your appreciation, listen to their needs, and prioritize their mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a very difficult time for everyone. By learning how to support team members, you can empower your medical staff to provide better care for their community.
Marilyn Sheehy is a registered nurse and vice president of strategic development at Marquis Health Consulting Services, which provides management and advisory services to skilled nursing facilities throughout the continental United States. At Marquis Centers, motivated staff provide patients with progressive and innovative care and inspire residents to live life to the fullest by facilitating an active, exciting and warm environment.