Caregiver Collaborative: Supporting Clinician Well-Being During COVID-19

Added on Apr 2, 2020

By Jessica Dudley, MD, Chief Clinical Officer

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Recently our clinical team at Press Ganey convened a COVID-19 Caregiver Collaborative to discuss the unique challenges physicians, nurses, and other patient care professionals face on the front lines of care during this pandemic and to share strategies and tactics for addressing them. The group meets weekly and includes physicians, nurses, and administrative leaders from more than 50 organizations across 24 states who care for patients and lead or participate in efforts to support clinicians in their institutions.

In addition to the issues the collaborative is addressing, four qualities of the participants have really shown through: collaboration, candidness, consistency, and creativity. 

Collaboration: This multidisciplinary group has come together to contribute to shared learning based on their personal experiences. Within institutions, and even within cities, a “we are in this together” mentality has broken down silos and replaced them with an all-hands-on-deck approach. Anesthesiologists whose schedules are unexpectedly open with the cessation of elective surgeries are being redeployed to provide relief to ICU clinicians who are working around the clock to care for the influx of COVID-19 patients. Palliative care physicians are working in EDs to train and support both caregivers and families. Surgical nurses are training to be ICU nurses. Engineering departments and schools are working with hospitals to solve PPE challenges. These collaborations are saving lives and providing front-line caregivers the support they need.

Candidness: Although many of the members of the collaborative have never met in person, they are all being extraordinarily candid about their experiences—both the challenging and uplifting ones. In my 30 years in health care, I have rarely seen this level of candor, transparency, and willingness to share vulnerability, especially by senior leaders. Sharing that “we don’t know” and “we are scared” has created an invaluable bond and the sense that we can and will get through this together.

Consistency: Despite coming from different backgrounds, working in different geographic locations, and caring for populations with varied demographics, participants were able to streamline their observations and personal experiences into six major areas, which form the construct for our meetings. These include Physical Safety, Emotional/Psychological Challenges, Surge Capacity, Communication, Ethical Issues, and Financial Issues.

Creativity: The innovation and creativity that is being shared through the collaborative is truly remarkable. Health care systems around the country are demonstrating an unprecedented level of responsiveness and agility to meet the rapidly evolving needs of patients and caregivers. In the face of extraordinary challenges, everyone is working together with what they have to make things work for everyone.

The commitment to protecting the physical and emotional well-being of caregivers is inspiring, and in many ways, it will change the face of health care moving forward. I want to recognize and thank all the participants for coming together and sharing the innovative efforts being undertaken at their organizations, which will be captured and updated regularly through our blog. In addition, Press Ganey will be providing access to summaries of the weekly meetings.

Visit our dedicated COVID-19 webpage for additional resources, including an Executive Summary of each week's meeting.