Providence pivots to better support caregivers

[5 MIN READ]

In this article:

  • With Omicron surging, Providence switched gears to better care for its own providers in Northern California.

  • Caregivers from the Mobile Health Clinic have relocated to an urgent care location to test Providence providers for the virus and treat their symptoms.

  • The urgent care site is temporarily closed to community patients and devoted solely to Providence caregiver support for now.

At Providence, our caregivers are our mission. They give their all, day in and day out, to care for their patients and colleagues. Due to the recent surge of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, we’ve pivoted our resources in Northern California to better take care of them.

After the holidays, a significant number of Providence employees began seeking COVID-19 testing and evaluation. As their needs for access to testing and booster vaccine shots increased, our leadership team immediately leaped into action. Starting Jan. 7, the Providence Medical Group Rohnert Park – Urgent Care location temporarily closed its doors to community patients. Instead, one provider and two medical assistants from the Community Health Investment (CHI) funded Mobile Health Clinic partnered with the Urgent Care staff to see Providence caregivers at the urgent care facility — testing them for the virus and treating their symptoms.

“With the lack of rapid antigen tests and the high volume of Providence employees either experiencing COVID symptoms or exposure, caregivers need a place to go to receive care for themselves,” says Jennifer Eid-Ammons, FNP-C, manager of the Mobile Health Clinic.

Sonoma caught in COVID-19 crosshairs

The shift comes as emergency rooms throughout Northern California — and regions across the United States — are flooded with people looking for COVID-19 testing. Many of these people aren’t experiencing symptoms.

Sonoma County reported its first known case of the Omicron variant on Friday, Dec. 17. Just a few weeks later, the number of new cases — driven largely by Omicron — reached 200 to 300 new infections a day. In December, that number was fewer than 40.

The barrage is straining resources so much that Providence hospitals sent out an advisory the week of Jan. 10 reminding people to use the ER appropriately. Providence asked the public to remember that their hospitals, including Providence Queen of the Valley Medical Center, are facing staffing shortages, and they need to reserve their resources for patients who need them most.

How the Mobile Health Clinic responded to help

The Mobile Health Clinic is a resource developed under the Providence Community Benefit Program umbrella. The clinic provides free, walk-in medical care to vulnerable members of the Sonoma County community who lack access to care.

When the Mobile Health Clinic team learned of the strain on Providence caregivers, they responded to the need for assistance. They divided their staff so that half could focus on continuing their service to the community while the other half could help with caregiver testing and treatment at Providence Rohnert Park – Urgent Care.

The pandemic has taught us to shift and pivot quickly to respond to health needs. Our team responded to the call for help in this situation with a ‘Yes, let’s do it. When do we start?’

“The urgent care didn’t have enough staff to handle caregiver testing and treatment because they were overwhelmed with volume,” Eid-Ammons says. “Flexibility has always been a motto followed by the Mobile Health Clinic team. But the pandemic has taught us to shift and pivot quickly to respond to health needs. Our team responded to the call for help in this situation with a ‘Yes, let’s do it. When do we start?’”

Caregivers from the Mobile Health Clinic are also helping to handle telehealth visits for employees at Providence St. Joseph Hospital Eureka out of the Rohnert Park location for now. “It’s been great getting to know other staff who work at Rohnert Park and working alongside them to take care of our own,” Eid-Ammons says.

Patients who would usually seek care at Providence Rohnert Park – Urgent Care are asked to visit the Santa Rosa and Windsor urgent care locations for the time being. Providence Rohnert Park – Urgent Care will reopen to community patients once the Omicron surge subsides.

“It’s been nice for our employees to have one location where they can go to be treated for their symptoms and receive COVID testing,” Eid-Ammons says.

“It’s been nice for our employees to have one location where they can go to be treated for their symptoms and receive COVID testing,” Eid-Ammons says. “They feel cared for and cared about as employees. Almost all the employees have expressed how grateful and appreciative they are.”

CHI caregivers also help to carry the load in Napa

In Napa County, where rates of new COVID-19 cases are also at record highs, CHI caregivers are volunteering at Providence Queen of the Valley caregiver booster clinics previously staffed by Caregiver Health. They’re also volunteering at the drive-thru test pick-up location at the hospital. 

Providence created the booster clinics and a new test pick-up site to ease the high-volume workload Caregiver Health was experiencing. These programs allowed Caregiver Health to focus on the caregivers and help them return to work as quickly as possible. 

Additional resources

The strain on our caregivers isn’t limited to physical effects. The stress caused by the pandemic has affected many healthcare professionals emotionally and mentally, as well. Symptoms of emotional and mental distress include excessive worrying, insomnia and chronic fatigue.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, consider using the below resources:

  • Physician Support Line (for doctors only) – This hotline is for doctors coping with stress. It’s staffed by hundreds of volunteer psychiatrists.
  • Nursing World: Well-Being Tools and Resources (for nurses only) – This library of resources is sponsored by ANA Enterprise, the family of organizations composed of the American Nurses Association, American Nurses Credentialing Center, and American Nurses Foundation.
  • Behavioral Health Concierge Service – This free, compassionate, and confidential program offer a unique telebehavioral health consultation service for Providence caregivers and members of their household.

For more, visit our caregiver resources page. Taking care of yourself first will help you better care for others during these stressful times.

“Our hospital mission of ‘know me, care for me, ease my way,’ must start within our own Providence community of employees,” Eid-Ammons says.

“Our hospital mission of ‘know me, care for me, ease my way,’ must start within our own Providence community of employees,” Eid-Ammons says. “It’s vital that we take care of the health needs of our own first, so they can provide their best care to our community. It’s like putting the oxygen mask on yourself first so that you can then best assist others.”

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Related resources

Benefits information

Get relevant, up-to-date information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) from Providence

The pandemic has changed how mental health is discussed and treated

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

About the Author

Community Partnerships is a division that aligns the influence of Providence to create stronger communities, raise awareness, and illuminate a pathway that inspires all to serve. Through partnerships, we work to improve the health of our nation and achieve our goal of Health for a Better World.

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