Health Workforce Safety

Information about risks to the health and well-being of healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and strategies to protect the health workforce.

(11/26/20) Amid COVID-19 Surge, Health Workers and Families Do Their Thanksgiving Best
This article covers the lengths health care workers and their families are going to maintain their health and wellbeing during Thanksgiving, as cases and hospitalizations of COVID-19 surge throughout the country.

(11/25/20) COVID-19 Has Claimed the Lives of 100,000 Long-Term Care Residents and Staff
This article from the Kaiser Family Foundation reports a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic for long-term care: more than 100,000 residents and staff from long-term care facilities have died of COVID-19 infection.

(11/25/20) COVID Combat Fatigue: ‘I Would Come Home With Tears in My Eyes’
This piece in The New York Times covers the personal, lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health care workers who have been treating COVID-19 patients for months. Frontline health care workers live in constant fear of bringing the illness to their families at home, while experiencing the fatigue of unending demand for intensive care units.

(11/25/20) Beyond Burnout: This Surge of COVID-19 is Bringing Burnover
As a third wave of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is becoming apparent, health care workers are showing symptoms of sustained burnout, enough to be called “burnover” in this article. Health care workers across the United States are retiring earlier than anticipated, with health care workers struggling to continue in the pandemic.

(11/25/20) GMU’s COVID-19 Research Targets Frontline Health-care Workers
A pilot research program from George Mason University is focused on allowing health care workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 to return to work as quickly as possible. The program seeks to help create feelings of safety in the workplace and help frontline workers deal with pandemic-related stress and anxiety from the workplace.

(11/24/20) Factors That Shape Notification of Health Care Outbreaks of COVID-19
This blog post from Health Affairs covers the factors involved in notifying patients, health care workers, and the public about outbreaks of health care-associated infection of COVID-19. There lacks widely established standards on how to report these types of outbreaks.

(11/24/20) As COVID-19 Cases Surge, Health Care Workers Say PPE Is Still a Struggle
While the United States has been compiling personal protective equipment in the Strategic National Stockpile, health care workers across the country continue to report needing to reuse personal protective equipment and difficulty replenishing their stocks.

(11/24/20) COVID-19 Is Taking a Devastating Toll on Filipino American Nurses
This article covers the immense toll of COVID-19 deaths on nurses in the United States of Filipino descent, which make up 4% of the nursing population nationwide yet account for nearly one-third of nursing deaths from COVID-19.

(11/24/20) Some Health Care Workers Are Wary of Getting COVID-19 Vaccines
Most states have made plans to prioritize frontline health care workers for COVID-19 vaccination, however some of these providers have voiced concern over the safety and effectiveness of any COVID-19 vaccine. This article covers how the politicization and speed of the vaccine development process have impacted trust of health care workers.

(11/20/20) These Front-line Workers Could Have Retired. They Risked Their Lives Instead.
Part of the series Lost on the Frontline from Kaiser Health News and The Guardian, this article focuses on the lives of some of the health care workers who chose to continue treating patients in spite of nearing retirement, ultimately dying from COVID-19.

(11/18/20) A Nurse’s Plea: ‘I Wish That I Could Get People To See COVID Through My Eyes’
This story from NPR features some perspective from nurses treating patients with COVID-19 who feel there is a significant disconnect between the risk of infection and the behaviors of those in their communities. As hospitals fill to maximum capacity, challenges include meeting the needs of their patients while avoiding infection themselves.

(11/16/20) Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Previously Undiagnosed Health Care Workers in New Jersey, at the Onset of the US COVID-19 Pandemic
A new study conducted by researchers at Rutgers and affiliated hospitals in the journal BMC Infectious Disease has found that health care workers are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than non-health care workers, with nurses having the highest risk, especially in hospital settings.

(11/16/20) New MN Fund Will Help Families of Front-line Workers Killed by COVID
The newly launched Frontline Families Fund seeks to support families of the more than 1,400 health care workers who have died from COVID-19. The first phase of grants seeks to help fund the costs associated with the death of the worker, and a future phase of grants will be delivered on the basis of need to cover scholarships and other financial needs.

(11/13/20) ‘No One Is Listening to Us’
An article covering the impact of treating patients on health care workers across the United States. While hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics throughout the country continue to struggle to meet staffing needs and maintain personal protective equipment, health care workers feel their suffering is not being met with precautions by the general populace.

(11/12/20) North Dakota Nurses Call for Mask Mandate, Reject Policy Allowing COVID-19-positive Workers to Stay on Job
The North Dakota Nurses Association calling for a statewide mask mandate and criticizing the new policy implemented to allow asymptomatic COVID-19-positive health care providers to continue working in spite of their infection. North Dakota is currently implementing these regulations in line with the “crisis” guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(11/11/20) COVID-19 Risks and Impacts Among Health Care Workers by Race/Ethnicity
This issue brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation analyzes the risks and impacts of COVID-19 on health care workers based on their race/ethnicity. Forty percent of health care workers are non-white in the United States, and people of color make up the majority of deaths among health care workers.

(11/06/20) ‘Suffocating’: Doctors Describe COVID-19 Challenges Faced by Indiana’s Healthcare Workers
This article highlights a recent COVID-19 update from both Indiana’s Governor and State Health Commissioner. The update focused on the burden COVID-19 is placing on the health workforce, with front-line health care workers reportedly experiencing burnout and staffing shortages.

(11/05/20) First COVID-19 Vaccine Doses to Go To Health Workers, Say CDC Advisers
A committee head for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that health care workers will be prioritized to receive the first doses of any effective COVID-19 vaccine. The order in which health care providers are granted access to an approved vaccine will depend on the approval process from the Food and Drug Administration itself.

(10/30/20) State Mask Stockpiling Orders Are Hurting Nursing Homes, Small Clinics
This article, jointly published by NBC News and Kaiser Health News, describes the difficulties experienced by nursing homes, small physician offices, and rural health clinics to acquire supplies of personal protective equipment. While states are mandating stockpiles, wealthier clinics can place larger orders, disincentivizing manufacturers of personal protective equipment from taking small orders.

(10/22/20) Stories of COVID-19: Caring for the Caregivers
A personal essay published by Health Affairs as part of the “Stories of COVID-19” series, this time coming from a hospitalist who treats patients diagnosed with COVID-19. This essay discusses the trauma experienced by those treating patients during the pandemic and the need to address the care of physicians and other health care providers before the end of the pandemic, as burnout and mental health issues plague these professionals.

(10/21/20) Effects of Universal Masking on Massachusetts Healthcare Workers’ COVID-19 Incidence
A new study conducted by researchers from the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health found significant benefits from universal masking in preventing spread of COVID-19 infection within health care workplaces. The researchers recommend universal masking policies in all health care settings as well as indoor businesses where distancing and ventilation may leave people vulnerable.

(10/16/20) Hospitals Must Do More to Protect Their Workers From COVID-19
This opinion piece featured in STAT is authored by three physicians who live together and treat patients with COVID-19. The physicians discuss how federal guidelines do not come with funding to help hospitals with implementation and often are ineffective with the patient population. The authors suggest rapid testing would be an essential response to protect health care workers.

(10/13/20) Cleveland’s University Hospitals Offering Sleep Pods for Front-line COVID-19 Workers
In order to address the stress placed on front-line health care workers by the COVID-19 pandemic, the University Hospitals system in Cleveland, Ohio, has developed sleep pods that workers can check out for up to 4-hour time intervals.

(09/17/20) Our Sister’s Suicide Shows the Need for Mental Health Care Among Emergency Physicians
This opinion piece from the family of an emergency physician who died by suicide after treating patients with COVID-19. Emergency physicians experienced some of the highest rates of burnout prior to the pandemic, and there are fears that the culture of emergency medicine discourages asking for help and potentially puts the lives of physicians at risk.

(09/10/20) How to Create Clinician Resilience: 3 Experts Weigh in
An interview with three experts from Becker’s Clinical Leadership Virtual Forum addressing employee stress, fatigue, and exhaustion from the COVID-19 pandemic. Treating physician well being as important, allowing clinicians to fail and helping them back up, and allowing employees to lead mindfulness programs are all suggestions for creating clinician resilience.

(09/10/20) Mortality Rates From COVID-19 Are Lower in Unionized Nursing Homes
A new research article published in the Health Affairs journal which found that nursing homes in New York State with health care worker unions present had significantly reduced mortality from COVID-19 compared to those without union presence. Union presence was also related to increased access to personal protective equipment, which may be connected to the decrease in mortality.

(09/10/20) Some Hospitals Fail to Set COVID-19 Patients Apart, Putting Others at Risk
This story from NPR highlights some of the struggles hospitals are experiencing in protecting the health workforce from COVID-19 infection. Inadequate personal protective equipment and preparations to maintain patient separation are compounding an already difficult situation.

(09/10/20) Best Practices for Handling Staff Emotional Health During the Pandemic: 3 Healthcare Leaders Weigh in
An interview with three experts from Becker’s Clinical Leadership Virtual Forum describing best practices for addressing the emotional health of the health care workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. Communication and providing resiliency programs are both major suggestions to maintain morale amongst staff.

(09/09/20) Lost on the Frontline: US Healthcare Workers Who Died Fighting COVID-19
A partnership between Kaiser Health News and The Guardian has released a new, interactive database of health care workers verified to have died of COVID-19.

(09/02/20) 42% of Nurses Have Run Out of PPE & 4 Other Survey Findings
A survey from the American Nurses Association has found a number of safety concerns among nurses treating patients with COVID-19. Nurses are being forced to reuse personal protective equipment, which are on short supply, causing fear and uncertainty.

(08/26/20) Over 1,000 US Health Workers Died of COVID-19. Many Were Immigrants and Minorities
Continuing their Lost on the Frontline series, Kaiser Health News and The Guardian published this piece highlighting the deaths of over 1,000 health care workers in the United States from COVID-19 infection. Many of those who died were immigrants and minorities.

(08/26/20) Mindfulness Eases Stress, Anxiety Among Healthcare Providers
An article discussing new research published in JAMA which found that mindfulness programs can decrease anxiety and stress in health care providers. While the authors found this to be desirable, they noted that there were no significant improvements in symptoms of burnout, a major cause for concern among providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(08/22/20) As Pandemic Persists, Health Care Heroes Beginning to Crack Under the Strain
Another article covering the impact the pandemic is having on health care workers, with increasing concern about the burden of non-stop COVID focus and potential for burnout. There is also concern for health care providers of Latinx backgrounds, who are increasingly seeing their own communities experience more severe impacts of COVID-19 than others.

(08/21/20) New Care Cube Reduces COVID-19 Infection for Health Care Workers
This story from public radio station WBUR in Boston discusses the innovative new “Care Cube” developed to allow patients infected with COVID-19 to be visited by healthy individuals and treated by their health care providers with less risk.

(08/19/20) 15 Steps to Navigate Crises and Promote Physician Well-being
The American Medical Association has released a 15 step protocol to address and improve physician wellbeing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Association has also released free surveys for organizations to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on their organization.

(08/17/20) PPE Shortage Could Last Years Without Strategic Plan, Experts Warn
An article discussing expert opinion on the potential for a years-long crisis in personal protective equipment shortages without strategic government intervention. Logistical challenges meeting demands for personal protective equipment are leading to rolling shortages in clinics across the United States, with manufacturers hesitant to commit to expanding production without long-term government contracts.

(08/13/20) Lives Cut Short: Remembering Health Care Workers in Their 20s Killed by COVID-19
An article featured on NPR discussing the realities of the risks health care workers face to continue providing care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. While the risk of COVID-19 is highest in the elderly, many workers early in their careers have succumbed to the disease.

(08/13/20) US Hospitals Pressure Healthcare Staff to Work Even if They Have COVID Symptoms
A joint investigation from The Guardian and Kaiser Health News has found that many health care workers were either forced to or encouraged to return to work while experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, potentially putting themselves and their colleagues at risk.

See More Resources