Preventing Suicides in the Health Care Workforce: Lifesaving Steps from Providence

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the dedicated team members at America’s hospitals and health systems have worked tirelessly to care for patients, comfort families and protect communities during this unprecedented public health crisis. However, the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on our health care teams with many suffering from stress, trauma, burnout and increased behavioral health challenges. And when physicians, nurses and health care professionals experience extended periods of stress and burnout, they often feel as though they are letting down their patients, their families, and their colleagues. Moreover, they often feel more challenged to care not just for their patients, but also themselves. The impact of these extended stressors has amplified the need for support and efforts to improve well-being, destigmatize mental health and address overall wellness from a system-wide level, to better care for the health care workers who care for our communities. In this podcast, Rebecca Chickey, Senior Director of Behavioral Health Services at the AHA, speaks with Arpan Waghray, MD,. Chief Medical Officer Behavioral Health Medicine Providence and CEO of Providence's Well Being Trust, in Seattle WA. Providence not-for-profit, Catholic health care system operating more than 50 hospitals, with 120,000 caregivers, across seven states, headquartered in Renton, Washington. Providence is dedicated to a holistic approach to medicine that employs not only the most advanced treatments to improve outcomes, but also puts compassion and humanity at the heart of every interaction – including interactions with their own health care workforce. The health system has developed a range of workplace well-being programs, from promoting healthy habits to improve the overall physical and emotional health of employees, to early identification and prevention of significant behavioral health disorders and suicidal ideation.