Best Ways to Stand Behind Frontline Healthcare Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The American healthcare worker is routinely exposed to all kinds of illness but rarely one so virulent as COVID-19. The latest data shows that 50% of the workers on the frontlines of the pandemic have already been exposed. The added stress of not enough personal protective equipment, and an overwhelming capacity surge, along with the risk of infection, place these healthcare heroes in an untenable situation. But organizations can stand behind these workers by providing them with additional support. Here are ways we can all help.
How Can Healthcare Systems Support Frontline Workers?
Health Affairs says, “Health care systems can protect their workers with more than masks.” While these organizations are learning to cope with the stresses of supply shortages of necessary equipment, there are other measures they can take to help frontline workers, including clinicians, but also staff from reception to housekeeping. Implementing hazard pay and other financial protections, such as offering free healthcare, similar to what happened in New York City after 9/11.
If healthcare workers develop COVID-19 symptoms, they should be encouraged to self-isolate and not face concerns about unpaid sick leave or other financial burdens. By no means should they be compelled to come to work. We’ve heard of hospitals concerned that healthcare workers are “gaming” the system to stay home, the administration must understand and trust their employees are motivated to care for patients.
As workforce shortages get worse, healthcare organizations must do all they can to support their employees. When testing becomes widely available, organizations must prioritize testing for healthcare workers exhibiting flu-like symptoms. This will help reduce the spread of the virus.
Healthcare systems must also set rules in place to protect their teams from burnout by limiting shifts and supporting workers that must take breaks for food, rest, or other breaks—including the restroom. Recognizing the burdens of hospital teams during this time and creating policies to protect workers is critical to protecting our most valuable defenders in the war against COVID-19.
How Individuals Can Help
Individuals can also support frontline healthcare workers in a number of ways. Here are some suggestions:
- Write, call, and email your members of Congress and ask them to increase access to protective equipment for healthcare workers.
- Give healthcare workers a shout out on social media. You can download a photo badge for social media here. Use #SupportHealthcareHeroes on your posts to spread the word.
- Donate lunch to your local healthcare providers. Call up to a local unit to arrange a take-out delivery. Work with a unit manager to arrange this to ensure their protocols are being met for any outside donations.
- Donate any surgical supplies like masks that you have available. Healthcare workers are making their own supplies. You can also find online guides to making masks here.
The team at MedSource would like to thank our nation’s healthcare workers. We are dedicated to working with healthcare organizations to ensure they have the staffing necessary to respond to all crises. We are standing by to help you cope.