October 09, 2020
1 min read
Furnari M, Newhall S. Reducing barriers to wellness during COVID-19: The wellness concierge resource service at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). Presented at: Women in Medicine Summit; Oct. 9-10, 2020 (virtual meeting).
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COVID-19 stressors disproportionately affect women, and health care systems should increase access to resources to ease stress and anxiety and improve wellness among their employees, a speaker at the Women in Medicine Summit said.
According to Sarah Newhall, BA, MS, a medical student at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), women are the majority of the health care workforce and, as of April, comprise 73% of positive COVID-19 cases among health care workers.
“This number will only continue to rise as the pandemic continues,” she said.
In a poster presentation, Newhall and Megan Furnari, MD, MS, an assistant professor of pediatrics at OHSU, described a wellness call-in hotline at their institution that was created near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., medical students who had temporarily been removed from their rotations because of the pandemic answered phone calls from employees and connected them with wellness resources. Callers could remain anonymous, according to the researchers, and they could share as much or as little as they wanted with the wellness concierge staff.
The composition of these calls, and the information the students provided, changed as the pandemic went on, Newhall said.
In the beginning, “most of the calls focused on clinical questions as protocols were changing,” she said. “In the months following, calls were more often about mental health needs and financial hardships. Our centralized tracking of wellness needs allowed OHSU to respond to trends and create support groups with specific needs.”
In July, the medical students who staffed the hotline were allowed to return to clinical rotations, at which point the hotline was continued through OHSU’s Wellness Task Force email team.
According to the researchers, health care systems “should strive to create a wellness model that reduces barriers to access for all employees.”