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.

(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.

(07/31/20) Risk of COVID-19 Among Front-line Health-care Workers and the General Community: A Prospective Cohort Study
A new study of health care workers in the United Kingdom and the United States found higher risk of COVID-19 infection among health care workers when compared to the general public. The study also found that black, asian, and other minority ethnicity health care workers were at least five times more likely to be infected with COVID-19 when compared to non-Hispanic white individuals, and that reuse of personal protective equipment is related to increased risk of infection.

(07/30/20) 7 Ways to Address Physicians’ Pandemic Stress
An article released by the American Medical Association discussing strategies to address the stress many physicians are feeling as they continue in their roles as front-line health care workers treating COVID-19 patients.

(07/28/20) UW Study Looks at New Protections for Frontline Health Care Workers During COVID-19; Recruitment Open Now
A research team at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health has announced a study to evaluate the effectiveness of antiseptic agents to protect frontline health care workers treating patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection.

(07/24/20) Florida Health Care Workers Feeling Strain of Coronavirus Surge
An article providing some updates on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic involving Florida’s health workforce. Workers are complaining of shortages of personal protective equipment and relaxed restrictions in their communities allowing for surges in cases, putting health care professionals at increased risk.

(07/24/20) A Pandemic Ethical Conundrum: Must Health Care Workers Risk Their Lives to Treat COVID-19 Patients?
A philosophical take on the obligation of health care workers to put their lives at risk to treat patients infected with COVID-19. Some medical associations in the United States have issued statements supporting the possibility for health care providers to opt out of treating patients if the risk is deemed too great.

(07/23/20) Monitoring Approaches for Health-care Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This scientific article published in The Lancet covers some effective and proposed methods for monitoring infection of health care workers with COVID-19. Depending on which phase of the pandemic being experienced in an area, the infections may not be coming from patients seeking treatment.

(07/20/20) How a Pandemic Affects the Mental Health of the Nursing Workforce
A research article published in Nursing Times discussing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of the nursing workforce in the United Kingdom. The concluding points include improving the focus on welfare of nursing staff, offering them protective equipment and social distancing, and reassuring nurses of their value and importance in interdisciplinary teams.

(07/20/20) COVID-19 is Pushing Doctors to the Brink. Medicine Needs to Recognize They’re Human and Need Help.
An opinion piece from an emergency physician discussing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of health care providers. Current norms encourage these providers to work through their struggles, and now the pandemic is exacerbating these issues.

(07/16/20) How NYC Health + Hospitals Protected its Workforce in the Face of Shortage
Another blog post published in Health Affairs reviewing the ways in which the largest public health care system in the United States, New York City Health + Hospitals, addressed issues in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through finding new supply lines and effective training, NYC Health + Hospitals was effective in protecting their workforce amidst shortage and crisis.

(07/14/20) Association Between Universal Masking and SARS-CoV-2 Positivity Among Health Care Workers
A research letter published in JAMA discussing an investigation at the Mass General Brigham health system about a universal masking policy put into place in March to address the COVID-19 pandemic. This masking policy appears to be related to a significant reduction in infection with COVID-19 of their health care workers.

(07/10/20) COVID-19 Creates Vicarious Trauma Among Healthcare Workforce
An interview with Ellen Fink-Samnick, a transdisciplinary health workforce expert, discussing the ways in which the health workforce experiences trauma through working together and through treating patients, as well as discussing strategies to reduce trauma and improve the quality of life of health care providers amidst the pandemic.

(07/10/20) Health Care Workers in Crisis—Efforts Toward Normalizing a Sustainable Workplace Culture
A blog post reviewing some studies into post-traumatic stress disorder and depression rates in health care workers treating COVID-19 patients. The post also covers stigmas surrounding seeking treatment for these issues, which is putting the safety of the workforce in jeopardy.

(07/07/20) Healthcare Workers Fear a Return to PPE Shortages as Coronavirus Caseloads Climb
An article covering the fears expressed by health care providers across the country about a potential lack of personal protective equipment as COVID-19 infections surge. Among the potential solutions proposed include developing a coordinated national effort to buy and supply personal protective equipment for the health workforce.

(07/06/20) Providers in Early Hot Spots Rest and Prepare for What’s Next
This article discusses some of the ways in which health care organizations can support workers as COVID-19 cases are on the rise. Among the most impactful wellness supports offered is vacation, giving health care workers time away from work to recover from the stress of the pandemic thus far.

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