The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on all of us, from social distancing challenges to closed businesses.
“The challenge of work-life balance is reaching a whole new level right now,” said Debbie Dobson, Sanford Health director of employee experience. “Meanwhile, the Sanford Family is committed to doing a great job for our patients, doing everything they can to make a difference.”
Worries abound, but resources help
Sarah Prenger is the senior executive director of primary care and behavioral health at Sanford Health. She says health care professionals are especially at risk for emotional distress, due to the hyper-vigilance each worker feels.
“More than ever, we’re trying to keep ourselves healthy while providing quality care to our patients,” said Prenger.
Keeping employees physically safe is a top priority at Sanford Health. During the pandemic, those measures include:
- Caregiver/provider face masks
- Cloth face masks for non-caregivers
- Changes in patient interaction, including Plexiglas barriers at registration, and expanded telemedicine services
- Increased cleaning and disinfecting
- Employee temperature screening
- Social distancing in the workplace
- Dining/food service changes for increased cleaning and social distancing
In addition to safety, Sanford Health makes sure workers have financial and emotional support, said Sanford Health chief human resources officer Darren Walker.
“Our comprehensive benefits package is designed to support the well-being of our Sanford Family, even during times of crisis. But we know that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought disruption and new challenges upon all areas of our lives — at home and in the workplace. We’re focused now on expanding our offerings to help our people through these new challenges.”
Some of the ways Sanford Health is doing that include:
“But one thing we’re really proud of are the employee well-being resources, including wellness consults and access to professional counseling,” said Dobson. They’re all pulled together in one place — on an all employee well-being site.
Resources found on well-being site
Walker, Prenger, Dobson, and other Sanford Health and Good Samaritan Society leaders saw a need to focus on the mental well-being of health care workers.
So, the well-being site was created.
“The No.1 thing you can access there is one-on-one support for either yourself, your spouse, or anyone living in your home,” said Prenger.
The website, found on employee web portals, features a plethora of emotional well-being resources, including:
- Free one-on-one counseling for emotional distress, legal troubles, and financial troubles
- Consultations with certified health and wellness coaches on topics including
- Nicotine cessation
The site also features a “recognizing you” section, where employees can post kudos and encouraging messages to other Sanford Health and Good Samaritan Society employees.
“It’s probably my favorite piece of the website,” Prenger said.
Posting to the dashboard has exploded in popularity, she added.
“The last time I checked, there were more than 150 examples listed. I will share that last week I was having a particularly hard day, overwhelmed by the weight of COVID-19. I went home and found myself on that website, and I read for over an hour these amazing examples of compassion for one another.
“It lightened my spirit and gave me ideas about how can I help celebrate the people around me,” she said.
Walker says Sanford has invested in providing these resources for employees because to continue providing quality health care, those on the front lines need to take care of themselves.
“We need them. We know that the way we treat our people — especially during uncertain times — will have a long lasting impact on their experience as part of the Sanford Family,” said Walker.
“By lightening their load, we know they will be able to focus on providing quality care to our patients and residents through this trying time. After all, we are stronger together.”
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