Psychological first aid
Lauren Lloyd, vice president of Human Resources, explains that her department is focused on employees’ well-being. “With the pandemic, we zeroed in on the long-term impact to our staff as they experienced very difficult situations. We created numerous ways to try to help, from on-site counseling to virtual town hall information sessions to COVID information toolkits, stress management tools on their mobile devices, and more.”
The Foundation enhanced this work in special ways. Shelley Watters, senior director of Cultural Excellence, says that COVID “actually offered an opportunity to recognize and acknowledge the emotionally draining nature of high-stress hospital work. Although it’s a lofty goal, we want to try to change the outdated way of dismissing stress as just ‘part of the job’ to acknowledging it and encouraging staff to take time to decompress for their own mental health. We began looking into how we could offer compassionate support in multiple ways.”
One approach supported by the Foundation is “Code Lavender,” a crisis intervention team that makes weekly rounds and also can be deployed to support any person within the organization when a stressful or a series of stressful events occurs in the hospital.
“We consider it psychological first aid, kind of that band-aid for the soul,” says Ms. Watters. “During our Code Lavender rounds, we’re able to offer a variety of stress-relief modalities. These include things like massage, pet therapy, aromatherapy, meditation, deep breathing, and mindful eating (we call it chocolate!).
“During the first three months, we reached out to over 600 staff members, including nurses, transporters, respiratory therapists, physicians, advanced care providers, pharmacists, nursing assistants, environmental service workers, and unit secretaries.
“Jamilyn Kennell, MSN, RN, OCN, advanced clinical education specialist, is currently conducting a nursing research study that was approved by the Institutional Review Board to explore moral distress levels in Shadyside nurses over time,” Ms. Watters adds. “Jamilyn and the research team can apply metrics to this work by using the Measure of Moral Distress in Healthcare Workers Tool, as it validates what we are observing.”