Quality Quarterly

Webinar Highlights Ways to Support Colleagues in Need

Recording now available

A recent webinar addressing how health care professionals can support their peers in need has been recorded and is now available online

On Feb.19, Dr. Nick Mickas, medical director – clinical operations, and Deborah Austin manager, patient engagement, both of John Muir Health in Northern California, conducted a webinar called “Care for the Caregiver:  Peers Supporting Colleagues in Need.”  This webinar had a record number of registrants, which speaks volumes when it comes to interest in this often-overlooked area of “taking care of our own kind.” 

 Located in Northern California’s Bay Area, John Muir Health includes three hospitals with a Level 2 Trauma Center, a Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Both acute care hospitals in the system (one in Concord and one in Walnut Creek) are Magnet certified.  The system also supports a large physician network with five major outpatient centers, including a partnership with the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). In addition, the system’s Home Health Services cover three counties and provides over 82,000 visits per year.

Like a growing number of hospitals and health systems, John Muir Health recognizes the potential emotional and psychological impact that serious safety events, medical errors, and emotionally traumatic events can have on the workforce and medical staff.  Understanding the importance of an emotionally and psychologically healthy and resilient care team, the organization has committed significant time and resources to providing support and care for their caregivers, workforce, and medical staff who have been impacted by emotionally traumatic events. 

Every day, health care professionals face the risk of traumatic events such as an unexpected death, a medical error, or an unplanned transfer to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).  Yet few hospitals have programs to support caregivers.  Too often, these employees and physicians experience self-doubt, burnout, and other problems that cause personal anguish and hinder their ability to deliver safe, compassionate care. 

While the initial intent was to provide support to caregivers who were involved in a “harm event,” the organization has expanded the program to include “emotionally impactful” events such as unexpected role changes, death/illness of a family member, or multiple deaths.   

In order to keep up with the continued growth of the program, adjustments have been needed. These changes include the need for 24/7 on-site responders in all areas (medical staff, nursing, ancillary, staff, etc.) as well as a current exploration into ways to automate program tools to improve efficiency.