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When Frontline Health Workers Need Help, This Is Where They Turn

July 28, 2020

Asking for help has been branded a weakness in a competitive world of self-made success stories, but when COVID-19 grasped onto the healthcare industry this spring, Hartford HealthCare employees often responded to stress by reaching out and asking for help.

Dr. Sharon Kiely, Hartford HealthCare’s chief wellness officer, said many frontline workers have taken advantage of the Colleague Support Center the system created early on in the pandemic. Calls came in at the peak seeking suggestions for childcare and how to manage the fears of infecting their family members when they returned home after long days caring for COVID patients. More recently, the calls have been about residual stress.

“The Colleague Support Center built for employees’ needs at the time of the pandemic. We told folks just call for any reason and we’ll link them to services we have here,” Dr. Kiely said.

In general, she believes the resource helped colleagues across the system endure the sadness, fear and anxiety that came with COVID-19.

“Most people have fared very, very well,” Dr. Kiely said. “We’ve learned people have leaned on colleagues, they’ve leaned on friends and family and they took advantage of the supports we at Hartford HealthCare have put in place for their welfare. In particular, several have taken advantage of Colleague Assistance Funds.”

The calls are confidential, eliminating any concerns about embarrassment for colleagues who might not want to seem weak or ill-equipped for their jobs.

“Think about if you are able to get through your day. Are you able to get through your basic living – getting groceries, etc.” Dr. Kiely said. “If you are still having trouble, in particular sleeping, or if you have just a lot of chatter in your about all that you’re worried about, there may be other things that would be of benefit to you. Please call the Colleague Support Line and we’ll link you to the services that would benefit you.”

She also noted that on Aug. 10, the Nursing Peer Support Line, a project driven by Hartford HealthCare nurses, will launch as an added layer of support.

“Our nurses have been on the front line of COVID-19 the entire time,” Dr. Kiely said. “This will be so nurses can connect with other nurses.”

Not feeling well? Call your healthcare provider for guidance and try to avoid going directly to an emergency department or urgent care center, as this could increase the chances of the disease spreading.

Click here to schedule a virtual visit with a Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent Care provider.

Stay with Hartford HealthCare for everything you need to know about the coronavirus threat. Click here for information updated daily.

Questions? Call our 24-hour hotline (860.972.8100 or, toll-free, 833.621.0600). 

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