Healthcare workers, coping with overwhelming patient loads with insufficient time and inadequate resources as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, may experience sadness, distress, fear and anger more acutely than others, according to survey results.

More than 600 healthcare workers at NYP/Columbia University Irving Medical Center were surveyed during the early stages of that hospitals COVID-19 surge. The survey, administered by Dr. Marwah Abdalla, an attending physician at NYP/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, found that more than half of the participating healthcare workers screened positive for acute stress and patient care PTSD, nearly 50% for depression, 33% for anxiety and nearly 75% for insomnia as a result of working with COVID-19 patients.

Courtney Vose, DNP, MBA, RN, APRN, NEA-BC, vice president and CNO of NewYork-Presbyterian (NYP)/Columbia/Allen, reported on the findings and additional insights into how to best support healthcare workers during Tipton Health’s August 24 webinar.

During the Surge

  • Physical and Mental Well-being: Offer adequate PPE and testing for staff, provide extra paid leave and waive co-pays. Consider arranging for crisis counseling, psychiatric assessment tracking, pastoral care, bereavement support and memorial services.
  • At Home: Accommodate staff with childcare, remote work options and additional financial support.
  • Facing the Frontline: Inform staff of hospital housing and hotel rooms they can stay in to avoid spreading the virus to family. Offer three free on-site meals a day and recharge rooms when they need a break. If you’re financially able, provide a bonus for those working on the frontlines.


Follow-up and Preparation for Future Cases

Host formal debrief sessions with all of your teams to reinforce trust and transparency. These sessions should include three key topics:

  1. What they would like to let go of: NYP employees mentioned ICUs in the operating room, preferring them in the pop-up areas on medical-surgical units.
  2. What they want to keep/enhance: Increase the number of negative pressure rooms available and prepare for any additional surges by stockpiling PPE.
  3. Just do it: Provide nonnegotiable options to staff, such as three meals a day or alternative housing options.

The insights you glean during these debrief sessions should be the basis for a formal action plan. Present this plan to your staff each week to show them the progress you’re making together towards meeting their needs.

Also, consider adding one-to-one discussions around the health and well-being of each of your employees as a component of your annual or biannual evaluations.


Learn More from Our Speakers

Visit to view our on-demand webinar video on the why and how of nursing recognition.

Tipton’s next webinar, Ambulatory Nurses: Uniquely Positioned to Lead Through a Pandemic, will be held on September 8, 2020, 12:30–1:30 p.m. EDT.