Ochsner Health Awarded $2.9M to Build Workforce Mental Health and Resiliency
Ochsner Health has been awarded $2.9 million by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), as part of a competitive grant process designed to “improve the retention of health care workers and help respond to the nation’s critical staffing needs by reducing burnout and promoting mental health and wellness among the health care workforce.” Led by its Office of Professional Well-Being, Ochsner will invest the funds in programs (detailed below) to create an organizational culture that supports the well-being and resilience of the workforce, institutionalize effective practices and boost workforce engagement.
“Confronted with multiple waves of COVID-19 and Hurricane Ida, Ochsner staff have worked through the most challenging of circumstances to take care of our communities – not to mention the personal struggles that these disasters created. We are extremely grateful for the HRSA funds, which will support Ochsner at a time when our workforce needs it the most,” said Nigel Girgrah, MD, Chief Wellness Officer, Ochsner Health. “We are determined to help our workforce stay engaged, reclaim joy and find harmony; and this grant award will allow us to implement training and strategies well ahead of what we had initially planned.”
Dr. Girgrah heads Ochsner’s Office of Professional Well-Being, which provides the backbone of the work being done to address burnout, resiliency, workplace stress, and the mental health needs of employees. Ochsner is the first healthcare system in Louisiana to establish such a department dedicated exclusively to workforce wellness.
The funds, secured through the Biden-Harris Administration’s American Rescue Plan, are being granted to address rates of depression and anxiety among health care workers, which have been compounded by COVID-19.
“I have traveled to many health centers across the country and know that the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified issues that have long been a source of stress for frontline health care workers — from increased patient volumes to long working hours,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “This funding reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to ensuring we have enough critical frontline workers by supporting health care providers now and beyond as they face burnout and mental health challenges. We will continue to promote the well-being of those who have made so many sacrifices to keep others well.”
The funds will be used by Ochsner over three years to support the following evidence-based or evidence-informed solutions:
Johnson & Johnson Resilience Training: Doctors and nurses must deal with a massive variety of stress factors. Johnson & Johnson’s Human Performance Institute’s resilience education and training will help protect their mental and physical health and help ensure they can deliver optimal care to patients.
Personal Leadership Program (PLP): Facilitated by OneTeam Leadership, PLP will support senior leaders, physicians, and APPs in their personal and professional wellness and growth. It was designed specifically for Ochsner to foster a culture in which providers and leaders can thrive with a renewed passion for caring for others by practicing self-care.
Penn Resilience Program (PRP) and PERMA™ Workshops: PRP and PERMA™ Workshops are evidence-based training programs that have been demonstrated to build resilience, well-being, and optimism. These strengths-based programs equip individuals with a set of practical skills that can be applied in everyday life to navigate adversity and thrive in challenging environments.
Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Coaching: IHI has created an interprofessional collaborative practice focused on coaching the nursing professional. Nurses at eight Ochsner hospitals will participate in a 12-month coaching program followed by six months of reflection and feedback. It supports the nurse overall, including improving their well-being and resiliency in difficult circumstances.
Cabana by Even Health: This online program connects healthcare professionals from across the county around shared issues and areas for self-care and self-improvement. Through “cabanas,” staff can share their challenges, successes, and strategies for addressing concerns with providers across the county. Facilitated by wellness professionals, cabanas are safe spaces that build wellness and resiliency.
Schwartz Rounds: Schwartz Rounds offers healthcare providers a regularly scheduled time during their fast-paced work lives to openly and honestly discuss the social and emotional issues they face in caring for patients and families. In contrast to traditional medical rounds, the focus is on the human dimension of medicine. Caregivers have an opportunity to share their experiences, thoughts and feelings on thought-provoking topics drawn from actual patient cases.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP): Ochsner offers an EAP that can help employees with common personal problems, such as family or marriage conflicts, job stress, financial worries, dependence on alcohol or drugs, depression, loss of a loved one, parenting concerns and among others. This clinical service provides initial assessment, short-term counseling and referral for treatment for employees and their immediate family members, whenever necessary.