Many frontline workers and other hospital staff found themselves working very long hours during the height of the pandemic. Parkview Health recognized the devotion to duty and found a variety of ways to support employees during the stressful time. Complimentary food served at the height of the pandemic was just the beginning of diligently working to meet staff needs and ease stress.

Stress First Aid program

Finding more meaningful and sustained ways to ease stress for co-workers came in the form of implementing some novel programs. New to Parkview is the Stress First Aid program. It is being implemented to mitigate stress reactions due primarily to COVID-19. Facilitator training for the Stress First Aid program is just getting underway, Linda Francies, vice president of nursing, Parkview Hospital Randallia, said.

“Stress First Aid is a self-care and peer support model originally developed by the military for those in high-risk occupations to assess and respond to stress reactions. The model aims to preserve well-being, prevent further harm, and promote recovery,” she said.

Concierge services

Additionally, Parkview concierge services supported an extremely busy staff. Concierge workers provided much needed assistance for overworked personnel. Concierge services continue supporting Parkview employees.

“The concierge team worked with individuals who were impacted by the pandemic to assist with immediate needs and concerns. One of the most common services has been delivering essential groceries, free of charge, to co-workers who were sick or quarantined and couldn’t leave their homes,” Hallie Custer, corporate human resources director, Parkview Health, said.

“Concierge services were started during the pandemic to help co-workers who needed additional support, and the services are still being offered on a case-by-case basis,” she said. Adding, “The concierge team is still supporting co-workers and also helps direct co-workers to childcare and mental health resources, housing or hotel services, or financial assistance.”

A grocery delivery that included dog food for a beloved pet eased the mind of a quarantined employee during the pandemic.

“One co-worker was quarantined at home with her husband, who had been laid off from work. The concierge team learned she was very worried about getting out to buy food for her dog, so they sent dog food along with her groceries. Like a lot of co-workers, she was amazed and appreciative to have this service available,” Custer said.

Keep Calm and Care.com

Other long-term support includes access to free resources such as the Calm app, and Care.com. The Calm app offers a variety of techniques to decrease stress. While Care.com can assist with childcare and other challenges.

“The Calm app is a popular smartphone app that offers tools for stress management, meditation, sleep and overall well-being. It was easy to partner with Calm and offer a free subscription to all our co-workers, who have access to these tools right at their fingertips whenever needed,” Custer said. Adding, “The free subscription is still being offered, and co-workers have shared positive feedback. Some have even said they use the bedtime stories for their kids who have experienced anxiety during the pandemic.”

Childcare resources can be challenging to meet during a pandemic. Access to Care.com can help fill the gap.

“We partnered with Care.com to offer back-up childcare resources as schools and care centers closed. Parkview also subsidizes the cost of care through this website, and the benefit is still being offered, Custer said. Adding, “Both of these benefits were easy to implement and offered immediate support to our co-workers.”

Continued pandemic response

Overall, an expanded and insightful Employee Assistance Program featuring greater mental health resources aims to let Parkview workers know they are a valued resource.

“Parkview really enhanced its mental health resources during the pandemic. The existing Employee Assistance Program flexed to meet the need(s) of our co-workers, offering virtual counseling, group sessions and even on-site sessions for frontline workers. Our internal website was also updated to give co-workers access to a range of mental health resources, all in one place, to help them determine the best options to meet their needs,” she said. Adding, “These resources will continue to be offered and are an essential part of our continued response to the pandemic. We want each of our 13,000-plus co-workers to feel and know they are supported every day.

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