In March 2020, the Montefiore Medical Center (MMC) in and around New York City established a Staff Emotional Support (SES) Team to provide mental health services for hospital staff in response to the stress caused by COVID-19.
Montefiore Medical Center
- Academic Medical Center
Intervention: Over ten weeks, the SES team introduced psychoeducational resources, a phone line staffed by behavioral science experts, staff support centers, individual and team support sessions led by mental health clinicians and division leaders, peer support outreach, virtual meditation and art sessions, and faith-based clergy support. Hospital staff were informed of these services through the MMC website and word-of-mouth in clinical meetings.
Process: Psychiatric faculty delivered grand round presentations on mental health support to individual departments in the Montefiore Health System (MHS) and updated web resources on the MMC internal website. Staff Support Centers (SSC) supplied healthcare workers with food and psychological support. SMART (Swift Montefiore Associate Response Team) provided frontline workers with quick-access, short-term telehealth therapy and/or medication treatment. SMART-FAM was then developed to provide parents and caregivers therapy related to childcare and intergenerational cohabitation. MESA (Montefiore Emotional Support Allies) paired frontline healthcare workers with a MMC psychologist/psychiatrist as an ally to offer peer support and additional resources.
Lessons: Healthcare workers are under enormous physical and mental stress, and often fail to seek help for themselves. SSCs were the most frequently used service, most likely due to the fact that they were easily accessible for recharging, offered human connection, and were not directly associated with the existing stigma of seeking mental health support. Many support services and outreach efforts were focused on clinical rather than non-clinical staff. Non-clinical staff are a population generally including employees with lower incomes and who are likely to be non-white. Given that these groups are more heavily affected by COVID-19 and its downstream effects, future MMC efforts must focus equally on non-clinical staff.
Carol A. Bernstein, Sriya Bhattacharyya, Shelby Adler, Jonathan E. Alpert, Staff Emotional Support at Montefiore Medical Center During the COVID-19 Pandemic, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, 2020, ISSN 1553-7250, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcjq.2020.11.009.