UVA Health has received $2.14 million in federal support to expand its nationally acclaimed program that addresses the burnout of healthcare providers and helps them cope with burnout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new grant, part of President Biden’s $103 million U.S. bailout and Lorna Breen Act, will allow UVA Health to expand the reach of the program to overstretched healthcare workers across the country. Outreach will include partnering with the Community Coalition for Mental Health and Wellbeing of Area Ten to provide training to health workers in Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson counties. The program gives healthcare providers, community health workers and healthcare students effective tools to identify and treat “stress injuries” caused by trauma, loss and the many challenges healthcare workers face. are faced. This, in turn, helps reduce burnout, mental illness and attrition at a time when these issues take center stage in hospitals around the world.
“Health care has always been a demanding and stressful profession, and the pandemic has only made that stress worse. For many healthcare providers, this has been the most challenging and exhausting time of their professional lives,” said Dr. K. Craig Kent, CEO of UVA Health. “We have found that this innovative referral program, developed here at UVA Health, promotes wellness and resilience and helps our dedicated team members provide the best possible care during extraordinarily difficult times. We believe this program has the potential to be transformative for hospitals across the country. »
The program, called Wisdom & Wellbeing, was developed by Richard Westphal of UVA’s School of Nursing and Dr. Peggy Plews-Ogan of UVA’s School of Medicine. They will use the $2.14 million federal grant to expand the program into a far-reaching “Wisdom, Wellness, and Peer Support” training program, which will not only address issues related to burnout, but will also teach providers how to respond effectively to bias and discrimination. .
The expansion of the program will be based on a collaboration with the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes Foundation, which was founded in the wake of Breen’s suicide in April 2020. “COVID has really dispelled the illusion that team members can keep sucking it in and get back to work,” said Westphal, a nurse practitioner. psychiatric. “Who has never work. It’s about changing the culture. »
The question has never been more urgent. Almost two-thirds of nurses and more than 40% of doctors say they are exhausted. The suicide rate among doctors and nurses is now at twice the rate of the general population. The national nursing turnover rate before the pandemic was about 17%; today it’s between 20% and 30%a fact that has crippled the staff of many American hospitals and, in some places, necessitated the deployment of military medical teams.
At UVA Health, the Westphal and Plews-Ogan Wisdom and Wellbeing program is already achieving great results. More than 900 team members have been trained in the Wisdom and Wellbeing Core Program, and hundreds of individual and team stress assessments have helped team members who had suicidal thoughts and stress. important work-related.
“Individual and team interventions supported risk assessment and connection to services, which saved lives, repaired relationships and retained team members,” Westphal said.
The Surgical Trauma ICU, for example, reduced its revenue by 54% after rolling out the program principles in 2017.
“Fundamentally,” Plews-Ogan warned, “people are not replaceable. They deserve the attention required to help them be their best.
UVA Health’s new initiative aims to provide just that. “Our health care providers do heroic work every day and they deserve all the support we can give them,” Kent said. “We know these tools developed here at UVA Health are effective, and we look forward to sharing them with our colleagues across the country.”