IT'S TIME TO CARE FOR THOSE WHO CARE FOR US
Healthcare workers are human and they’re hurting. The COVID-19 pandemic has widened inequities in health and has left healthcare workers overworked, stressed out, and exhausted.
Let’s build a more equitable healthcare system that destigmatizes access to mental health support for healthcare workers.
“It’s an awful feeling to wonder every single time I walk into a room with a patient, ‘Is this it? Is this the time when I’m going to get sick and going to be the one in bed?’ Especially when the patient is a nurse.”
- Kellie Wunsch, ICU Nurse
Healthcare Workers Are Human
“When you are struggling to take a breath, every second feels like eternity. Every minute seems forever. That is the look I see multiple times a day. But people don’t see that.”
- Dr. Nathalie Dougé, Internist
SHOW YOUR GRATITUDE
Donate to #FirstRespondersFirst to fund programs that take a whole human approach to supporting our frontline healthcare workers by addressing their basic needs, mental health and systemic changes to improve their day-to-day experience. Your donation will provide critical mental health support and resources to frontline healthcare workers who continue to face the parallel pandemic of trauma and burnout.
An average donation of $25 can provide invaluable mental health support for a healthcare worker in desperate need of help.
#FirstRespondersFirst, an initiative of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Thrive Global, and the CAA Foundation, takes a whole human approach to addressing the needs of frontline workers in order to support their ability to serve on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. #FirstRespondersFirst’s fundraising call to action helps provide essential supplies, protective equipment, accommodations, child care, food, and critical mental health support and resources to this demographically and socially diverse workforce, ranging from minimum-wage hourly workers in home-care settings to social workers, nurses, physicians, and beyond, through its implementing collaborators. #FirstRespondersFirst is a fund of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that meets all 20 Better Business Bureau charity standards and carries the GuideStar Platinum Seal of Transparency.
Donations to #FirstRespondersFirst will directly support healthcare workers’ mental health and wellbeing through the provision of mental health resources, creation of wellbeing programs, and support of systems-level change through the ALL IN: WellBeing First for Healthcare campaign newly-established by #FirstRespondersFirst. Your contribution will help support systems-level change by providing financial resources to healthcare organizations to implement healthcare workforce wellbeing solutions, particularly focusing on:
• Scaling-up of promising practices and initiatives organization-wide to support the wellbeing of the workforce
• Initiatives to modify operational processes to mitigate the known causes of burnout
• Programs that complement existing Employee Assistance Programs to broaden engagement with wellbeing and mental health support
The ability to practice medicine is regulated by each state. State medical boards are agencies that evaluate medical doctors in order to ensure that only qualified physicians are licensed to practice medicine.
Medical boards also review complaints, refer physicians for evaluation when necessary, and discipline them when found guilty of medical malpractice. They also have the ability to suspend or revoke the medical license of physicians deemed to be incompetent or unable to practice medicine.
After physicians are licensed, they must periodically re-register to maintain their license. This process includes demonstrating they have met standards of medical ethics, continued their education, and in some states, they also must reveal any relevant medical history including addiction and any mental or physical illness that the state believes might interfere with their ability to practice medicine.
This requirement can present a huge barrier for physicians suffering from mental health concerns who would otherwise seek support. In the states where initial or renewal medical licensure applications have questions about mental health, 40% of physicians say they would be reluctant to obtain mental health treatment because of concerns about licensure repercussions.
Dr. Lorna Breen was a beloved emergency room physician in New York City. During the peak of the first wave of the pandemic, Dr. Breen treated confirmed COVID-19 patients, contracted the virus herself, and then returned to work right away. Her patients were always her priority.
But the scene she returned to after being sick was even worse than the one she left. Patients were dying in the hallways, staff was pulling 12-hour shifts with insufficient PPE, oxygen, and hospital beds. Dr. Breen was overwhelmed and exhausted. She was afraid to seek help because she feared losing the career she spent her life building. Afraid of being ostracised by the medical community, on April 26, 2020, Dr. Lorna died by suicide.
In the months following Dr. Breen’s death, her sister and brother-in-law, Jennifer Breen Feist and Corey Feist heard from hundreds of health care professionals who had suffered in silence struggling with mental health challenges or burnout. In response, the Feists founded the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation whose mission is to reduce burnout of health care professionals and safeguard their well-being and job satisfaction. The foundation envisions a world where seeking mental health services is universally viewed as a sign of strength for health care professionals.
Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to end the COVID-19 crisis and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network is a robust partnership of over 140 global multi-sector organizations aligned in a belief that every effort made in the fight against COVID-19 should leave a long-term legacy. One where humanity is better prepared to deal with outbreaks and prevent a deadly and costly pandemic from happening again.
In November 2021, PAN released findings from a survey of U.S. doctors and nurses on the challenges that continue to burden them well over a year into the pandemic, and what is required to be better prepared for this crisis and future pandemic threats.Conducted by Klick Health, the survey of 532 doctors and nurses in the U.S. addresses what is needed to be better prepared for this crisis and the next.
If you or someone you know needs support, below are a couple of resources that we’ve come across:
The National Mental Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
Harriet’s Apothecary is an intergenerational community of Black, queer, feminist healers and community organizers that center healing, wellness and resilience without relying on the medical industrial complex. With a vision of a world where Black, Indigenous, and People of color have the power, healing and safety to lead the lives they desire, Harriet’s Apothecary hosts workshops and wellness spaces rooted in community healing.
A truly equitable healthcare system prioritizes access and care for all
A truly equitable healthcare system prioritizes access and care for all
PASS THE MIC
COVID-19 internist Dr. Nathalie Dougé, featured in the documentary The First Wave, talks about what it’s been like working through the tremendous suffering she and her fellow healthcare workers have witnessed during this pandemic.
Award-winning filmmaker Matthew Heineman talks about what he saw while filming inside one of New York’s hardest hit hospitals during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alexis Ellis, wife of COVID-19 patient Ahmed Ellis featured in the film The First Wave, talks about her heartbreaking experience as the wife of a Black man dealing with the systemic racism of our healthcare system.
We asked the healthcare workers and the filmmakers behind The First Wave to tell us about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of the healthcare workers. We listened.
With exclusive access inside one of New York’s hardest hit hospital systems during the terrifying first four months of the pandemic, Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning director Matthew Heineman’s THE FIRST WAVE spotlights the everyday heroes at the epicenter of COVID-19 as they come together to fight one of the greatest threats the world has ever encountered.
The discussion guide below is designed to help you use THE FIRST WAVE as a catalyst for sparking conversation about the future of our healthcare workforce and the mental health and well-being of our healthcare workers.