Inside a health system’s $2.9 million plan to tackle burnout

The fallout from Hurricane Ida and the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in high levels of burnout and post-traumatic stress disorder among Ochsner Health employees. But help is on the way. Armed with $2.9 million in federal funds, the large Louisiana-based healthcare system plans to reinvigorate its workforce with seven evidence-based wellness programs.

The goal was to think outside the box “and be a little less traditional in addressing mental health needs,” said Nigel Girgrah, MD, PhD, transplant hepatologist and director of wellness at Ochsner. Health, a member of the AMA Health System program.

Burnout rates among Ochsner’s 30,000 employees peaked at 54% during the 2021 SARS-CoV-2 Delta wave and 31% during Omicron last December. “By necessity, we have had to turn to crisis support,” with a renewed focus on mental health and resilience strategies, Dr Girgrah said.

Learn about the top stressors facing physicians in 2022.

Ochsner obtained these funds through the American bailout. The funding opportunity notice is out in July 2021, with a September deadline. “We had weeks to set this up at the top of Delta and while we were dealing with Ida’s recovery. So it’s very gratifying that we received the grants,” said Dr. Girgrah.

Learn more about Ochsner’s recent burnout assessment survey and how it met vaccination requirements at its facilities.

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Ochsner will use the funds over three years to support these seven evidence-based or evidence-informed solutions.

Johnson & Johnson Resilience Training: Aims to protect the mental and physical health of employees and ensure the delivery of optimal patient care.

Personal Leadership Program (PLP): Supports senior executives, physicians, and non-physician clinicians in personal and professional well-being and growth.

Penn Resilience Program and PERMA Workshops: Equips employees with practical skills they can apply every day to face adversity and thrive in challenging environments.

Coaching from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI): Supports nurses by improving their well-being and resilience in difficult circumstances.

Cabana by Even Health: Cabanas allow staff to share their challenges, successes, and strategies for addressing concerns with providers across the county.

Schwartz rounds: Provide healthcare professionals with a regular time to discuss the social and emotional issues they face in the care of patients and families.

Employee Assistance Program: Counsel employees on family or marital disputes, work stress, financial worries, alcohol or drug addiction, depression, loss of a loved one, parenting concerns, and other issues.

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Ochsner specifically engages nurses in these initiatives, Dr. Girgrah said.

“I don’t think you can have a strategy around physician wellness that doesn’t start looking at the nursing workforce. Burnout in this area is critical to everything we do as a health system,” he said. The IHI Nursing Support Program for frontline nurses and nursing leaders will launch this year.

Through Cabana, people can create avatars of themselves, disguise their voices, and participate in group therapy sessions led by a licensed behavioral health specialist.

“We were doing this before the pandemic, but the grant allows us to move from a beta site to a full implementation,” Dr. Girgrah said.

PLP invites advanced and executive leaders to participate in an intensive four-day retreat. Dr. Girgrah explained that employees examine their early development, how it shaped the people they are today, and whether any of those traits are holding them back.

“Retirement gives employees the opportunity to rewrite their history in the future and be a better version of themselves,” Dr. Girgrah said. “Because you can’t really lead others until you’re a better leader of yourself.”

Determined to make physician burnout a thing of the past, the AMA has studied and is currently addressing the issues that cause and fuel physician burnout, including time constraints, technology and regulation. , to better understand and reduce the challenges that physicians face.

Focusing on the factors causing burnout at the system level, the AMA assesses the well-being of an organization and offers guidance and targeted solutions to support physician well-being and satisfaction.

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