Support For Health Care Workers

Support For Health Care Workers

Health Care Workers during COVID -19

The COVID- 19 Pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges and hardship to healthcare workers. The overload of patients needing care, the high death rate, codes being called one after another, rationing of supplies, having to make difficult decisions in a split second, wearing hot and cumbersome PPE (when available) and the fear of bringing the virus home are just some of the daily struggles and stresses that healthcare workers face. Even the most resilient and well-adjusted practitioners are bound to experience feelings of helplessness, anxiety, fatigue and exhaustion. These are all normal responses to an abnormal health crisis. We are here to help.

Services We Offer

At Moorestown Integrative Wellness we believe that the wellness of our community rests on the wellness of our community’s caregivers. We are here to support you during this challenging time.

We provide:

  • Individual psychotherapy to healthcare workers and care givers
  • Telehealth visits
  • Free support groups for health care workers and caregivers
  • Wellness and Resilience Workshops and Trainings
  • Consulting services and programming for healthcare organizations and hospital to support staff Wellness and Resilience

Our Experience

As a health psychologist I have worked in hospitals treating the psychological needs of medical patients for the past 10 years. Five years ago the effects of health care worker burnout hit home and ever since I have made burnout prevention a central focus of my professional practice. During my time at Jefferson University Hospital I developed and ran a self-care and burnout prevention group for Neurology residents and staff nurses. More recently, as a Health Psychologist at Hackensack Meridian Health, I developed and ran an evidence-based, hospital-wide, Nursing Wellness Program to reduce nursing burnout as well as an evidence-based medical resident Resilience and Burnout Prevention Program. In my clinical practice many of those whom I treat are health care workers and caregivers. You are not alone.

While burnout and compassion fatigue has been on the rise, the advent of COVID- 19 has drastically increased the need for mental health support for health care workers. Many health care workers are now experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Vicarious Trauma.

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? – PTSD is a mental health challenge that may occur in individuals who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. People with PTSD often feel intense emotions such as fear, anger, sadness and a detachment from friends, family and community members. People with PTSD may relive the event via intrusive memories, flashbacks and nightmares; avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma; and have anxious feelings they didn’t have before that are so intense their lives are disrupted.

What is Vicarious Trauma? The negative effects associated with witnessing patients’ pain, trauma, and suffering

You may be experiencing post traumatic symptoms or symptoms of vicarious trauma if you have experienced the following:

  • Intrusive thoughts, experiencing disruptive or unwanted thoughts about work when you are not there
  • Sleep disturbance; difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and nightmares
  • Avoidance of things that remind you of the traumatic experience
  • Distressing emotions such as intense anxiety, anger, fear and sadness
  • Hyperarousal/Hypervigilance- feeling on edge or easily angered or irritated
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Withdrawing from loved ones
  • Dread of work or certain work situations
  • Disruption to world view, feeling a deep sense that the world is unsafe
  • Can’t stop crying or find yourself crying over what would not normally be upsetting; a song on the radio, or a commercial
  • Reduced ability to feel sympathy and empathy

Common coping strategies which may increase symptoms:

  • Isolating from others
  • Using alcohol or drugs to “take the edge off”
  • Overeating
  • Outburst of anger at loved one’s or strangers
  • Guilt, self blame and self criticism
  • Overworking
  • Neglecting one’s own needs
  • Denial

What is Burnout? Burnout is the terminal phase of professional distress and is characterized by feelings of depersonalization, a feeling of not being real, being outside yourself and treating others as objects or numbers. Emotional exhaustion, feeling fatigued when facing work and career dissatisfaction- a diminished sense of personal accomplishment and low self value, feeling that what you do does not matter (Maslach & Jackson, 1986). Those most susceptible to burnout are often those most dedicated, conscientious, responsible and motivated.

What is Compassion Fatigue? Compassion fatigue involves a decline in one’s energy, desire and ability to love, nurture and care for others. People experiencing compassion fatigue may feel they have lost their ability to empathize with another person’s suffering. (Coetzee & Klopper, 2010; Gilmore, 2012; Stewart, 2009).

What is Resilience? Resilience is the ability to recover and in some cases grow from stressful experience. Resilience can also be seen as a process rather than a trait which may only be developed in the face of adversity. (Rutter, 2006).

When our healers suffer, we all suffer. When our healers thrive, we all thrive.

“We are trained to ignore our own emotions, thoughts, and needs and focus on the patient and their needs. [The fear is] if we focus on our needs we will provide worse care, and might even harm the patient. This is exactly the kind of thinking that leads to compassion fatigue, burn out [and undermines resilience]”
~Jeanne Bereiter, MD
(IHS, Trauma informed care, webinar series, 2017).

The fact is, sustainable self-care must be built on and return to an abiding acknowledgment of being truly human. When Health Care Workers readily realize the false demarcations between themselves and their patients, self-care becomes a human imperative (Wise, E. H., Hersh, M. A., & Gibson, C. M. 2012). We must learn to “walk the walk”, to care for ourselves with the same love, care and compassion we show our patients, this is how true and sustainable resilience is built.

Help is here, call today.