SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Healthcare workers at Cox and Mercy have been working on the front lines of the pandemic over the last seven months, and that can take a toll on their mental health.
“It’s something that most people can’t understand unless you’re working that unit,” Cox’s administrative director of nursing, Chastidy Parke, says.
Cox and Mercy offer healthcare workers to seek out help they may need to deal with their mental health.
The program at Mercy says one of the most important things they need to remember is to take care of themselves first. But Linda White, with the employee assistance program, says that might be hard for them.
“Caregivers are so altruistic,” White says. “They’re always giving, and it’s like, you have a cup and you pour it out. Caregivers will often run into their jobs and everything and they’ve forgotten an essential part of caregiving is taking care of themselves, because they are so caregiving. Especially in COVID, they’re just pouring out and pouring out of themselves.”
Mercy’s employee assistance program offers workers telehealth support 24/7, and it’s completely confidential. White says it’s important not to bottle up how you feel and to not be ashamed to express what you need.
“They often feel embarrassed about taking care of themselves or for asking for what they need,” White says. “Often they’re embarrassed to say ‘Hey, I’m hurting’ or ‘This is how I feel, I’m a nurse, I should be able to take this,’ but this is a new time.”
Cox is offering counseling and support groups to the staff so they can stay healthy, both physically and emotionally. The hospital says the number of people using those services has increased during the pandemic.
“In normal times, non-pandemic, they’re a really tight knit group so they do a lot of things outside of work, but now we can’t do that because of socially distancing and our community rates, so it’s hard,” Parke says. “We’re struggling.”
The programs are reminding people of the little things they can do to try to destress after work– like taking a long walk, listening to music or playing with their pets.
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