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Virginia has a first-of-its-kind plan to help healthcare workers feel more supported and valued

Posted at 12:24 PM, Jan 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-12 12:25:52-05

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia is the first state in the country to implement a statewide initiative to support the emotional and mental wellbeing of healthcare workers.

The initiative, known as "All In: Caring for Virginia’s Caregivers," was founded by the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes Foundation and First Responders First.

Dr. Breen, a Charlottesville native and VCU Medical School graduate, died by suicide in April 2020 from the physical and mental stress of being an ER physician in New York City at the height of the pandemic.

The initiative will assist hospitals and healthcare systems in redesigning their workplace environments to help healthcare workers feel more supported and valued, especially coming off three years of pandemic duty and now seeing an intense influenza, RSV and covid surge in hospitals and doctors’ offices.

It's centered around four goals, including eliminating barriers to mental health access for workers by changing licensing and credential applications, addressing burnout from operational efficiencies and reducing electronic health record clicks for common workflows.

The initiative also designates a person with operation authority to align all clinician well-being efforts and creates more employee assistance programs to ensure adequate mental health care by providing mental health counseling, a peer-to-peer support program and psychological first aid training.

Corey Feist, co-founder of the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes Foundation, said his family is grateful to have 100% of Virginia hospitals agreeing to participate in the initiative.

“Lorna cared just as deeply about her colleagues, as she cared about her patients,” Feist said. “She was dedicated to taking care of them and her colleagues.  I think she would be delighted to know that we are taking this work to the next level, her home state, and really making it the crown jewel of the country.”

Foundation board member, Leigh Cantrell, M.D., said healthcare workers deserve a healthy balance in the workforce so they can adequately care for their patients and their families.

“I think the loss of Lorna Breen was a real wakeup call to all of us,” Cantrell said. “Here’s someone that was so tough and who we all looked to as a provider who never broke, and she broke so that means it could happen to any of us.”

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, the Virginia Nurses Association and the Medical Society of Virginia all jointly support the initiative.

For hospitals and health systems interested in being recognized as a WellBeing First Champion, visit ALL IN’s online portal to verify your organization’s credentialing applications are free from unnecessary mental health questions.

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