Giving caregivers the opportunity to talk about the cause of their distress to empathetic peers and mental health clinicians can keep them from being overwhelmed and it may reduce the risk of moral distress and post-traumatic stress disorder. Connecting with peers and mental health professionals has been made easier through technology.
Providence is lowering barriers to access to urgent mental health care through expansion of its new Telebehavioral Health Concierge program. Noting that the challenges of burnout are not short-term challenges, Dougal Hewitt, executive vice president and chief mission officer, said, "We must support caregivers through and in the months — and likely years — that follow."
Other steps by Providence to support the physical and financial well-being of caregivers during the coronavirus pandemic include:
- Committing to provide a safe work environment including by offering a call-a-nurse care center and encouraging caregivers to check for coronavirus symptoms twice daily.
- Temporary financial protections for caregivers included continuation of caregiver pay through April 30 for those who were furloughed as elective procedures were halted
- Up to 80 hours of emergency time off that can be used through May 31 for COVID related issues after PTO leave is exhausted
- Partial income replacement for COVID-19 positive caregivers who have exhausted their PTO and emergency leave
- Payment of 100% of medical claims associated with COVID-19 infections at least through the end of May
- Backup childcare
- Crisis care reimbursement
- Domestic violence resources
- Hardship loans and CARES Act withdrawals available
Providence also is underscoring the healing properties of gratitude, collecting personal reflections on thankfulness from caregivers. The "gratitude initiative" includes sending thank-you notes and comfort kits to caregivers. In addition, the system is collecting "Coronavirus Chronicles," a record of caregivers' experiences during this time, in recognition of the healing dimension of storytelling and the importance of creating a historical record of the ministry's response to the pandemic.
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