NYC Health + Hospitals creates new employee wellness program to combat emotional stress, burnout

Employees of New York City-based NYC Health + Hospitals experiencing workplace stress and burnout will have access to additional resources for emotional support.

The public health system launched a new peer-led employee wellness program, called Helping Healers Heal, which is specifically designed to assist workers who are considered "second victims" of traumatic patient care events. These are workers who may be high risk for depression due to their job duties and unanticipated patient outcomes, such as the death of a child, according to a system news release.

The health system announced the launch of Helping Healers Heal on April 16. The program will be available to all NYC Health + Hospital employees at all patient care sites, and will include specially trained teams to offer peer-to-peer support, mental health expertise, and team-debriefing sessions after traumatic events, especially in emergency departments, mental health units and pediatric intensive care units.

"There's no question that healthcare professionals across the country provide great medical care under some of the most demanding circumstances," said Mitchell Katz, MD, the system's new president and CEO. "At NYC Health + Hospitals, our level 1 trauma teams are among the best in the country. Our mental health experts are the most skilled, compassionate professionals in the field. Yet, sometimes the emotional aftershock of treating victims of terrorist attacks or seeing a child die from the flu can cause deep pain and stress that too often goes unaddressed. After all, doctors and nurses are trained to care for others. But, we want our colleagues to know that when challenges arise, there is no shame in seeking help for themselves."

Dr. Katz and Eric Wei, MD, NYC Health + Hospitals' inaugural chief quality officer, based Helping Healers Heal on a model they used when they worked at the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, one of the nation's largest public safety-net systems.


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