Leadership Articles

Clinician Wellness Recommendations During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted on Mon, Mar 16, 2020

By Stefanie Simmons, MD, FACEP
Vice President, Patient and Clinician Engagement at Envision Physician Services

As COVID-19 (coronavirus) continues to spread throughout the country, our lives are likely to be disrupted for months to come. The response to this pandemic will be a marathon, not a sprint, so it is critically important that we take steps to take care of ourselves and our family’s wellness during this time.

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Here are some steps clinicians can take to limit the impact on themselves and their families:
 

  1. Maintaining healthy habits with regards to sleep, diet, exercise and substance use. This may require getting creative if your gym or favorite restaurant closes.
    1. Consider preparing healthy meals to freeze for easy use later.
    2. Consider home exercise regimens to preserve energy and fitness. A brisk walk followed by some bodyweight exercises can help preserve fitness.
    3. Do your best to sleep at least seven hours a night, using blackout curtains and earplugs if necessary.
    4. Minimize alcohol use and avoid tobacco or other drug use to maximize health and immune response.
  2. Plan for child, family and elder care needs in case of school or daycare closings, illness or increased clinical work needs. Consider co-op childcare if you have several families that will have childcare needs in case of school closures.
    1. Backup plans with at least three options are recommended. (ex. 1. My kids are in school; 2. School is canceled and my spouse is caring for them at home; 3. School is canceled and my spouse is ill, but my neighbor can watch the children during my shift in exchange for childcare on alternate days, and; 4. My co-worker and I switch shifts to work opposite shifts and we care for each other’s children while not working)
  3. Consider where you will isolate ill family members who do not require hospitalization or acute care in your house. Ideal spaces would be a bedroom with an attached bathroom or a separate floor of the house, but even a separate room would offer some protection.
  4. Consider where you disrobe and how you clean your clothes when returning from work. Plan on removing clothing before entering your home and proceeding directly to the shower/bath.
  5. Keeping up-to-date with new clinical information and adjusting our clinical practice adds additional stress to an already challenging job. In addition, many of our usual stress relief locations like gyms, movie theaters or sporting events may not be available to us. Consider alternate ways to engage your mind and creativity during this time for stress relief and enjoyment. Reading, watching television, writing, arts and crafts, outdoor exercise and connecting remotely with family and friends can all be helpful.
  6. Please follow all PPE recommendations and keep yourself as safe as possible by staying up-to-date about reducing exposure risk during procedures and patient care.
  7. When caring for patients, please remember that misinformation is rampant and even well-meaning, thoughtful patients may present with questions and concerns that seem irrational. Consider developing a script for yourself to use with patients who are upset about abnormal issues like hallway beds/or the use of PPE:
 

“This is a frightening time for many people. We are keeping our patients and staff safe by using personal protective equipment and disposing of it properly between patients. I know it is frustrating to receive care in the hallway, but thank you for being patient as we follow health recommendations during this pandemic.”

 
  1. Take short breaks throughout your shifts for snacks, water and a deep breath or two so you can properly refocus on your work.
 

Your community, colleagues and Envision all understand that you are on the front lines of patient care, and dealing with community anxiety and personal exposure risk during this pandemic. We want to say thank you to our healthcare heroes - we are proud of the work you are all doing caring for us. #HealthcareHeroes

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