New rules have put health care workers under greater pressure to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The new rule requires providers to fully vaccinate staff by January 4, 2022. Exceptions are allowed, such as religious beliefs or disabilities, but providers must adopt contingency plans to address the potential for non-vaccinated staff.
5 leadership imperatives for health care staff
To ensure that staff members are well-cared for, leaders must adopt a number of key practices. In addition to ensuring the safety and security of employees, leaders must acknowledge their own vulnerability, embrace curiosity and inclusion, and engage in effective communication. Leaders must also strive to remove the stigma associated with seeking help. Leaders should also focus on ensuring that health care workers earn a living wage and receive adequate health insurance.
One of the most important leadership practices is trust. A good leader must have the trust and confidence of others. He or she must also be humble enough to delegate and support others. No leader can master all 10 leadership imperatives alone, and trusting others is essential. Therefore, healthcare leaders must demonstrate humility and respect for others.
The ability to lead others requires a combination of talent, experience, and vision. While some executives are born with these qualities, others need to learn these skills on the job. For example, executives in health care often must learn how to deal with difficult situations. Without proper training, they may only be able to succeed for short periods of time and not have the necessary skill set. In addition, the industry is changing rapidly. Healthcare reform is bringing a new wave of challenges that require new approaches to healthcare leadership.
In the aftermath of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers have experienced increased levels of psychological distress, burnout, and mental health issues. In many countries, the recovery process had only just begun when a second or third wave of the virus appeared. As we continue to assess our immune responses to the virus, new variants may emerge. Leaders need to be ready for these challenges and ensure that their staff are well-cared for.
COVID-19 pressures on health care workers
During the recent COVID-19 outbreak, pressures to respond to the disease and the expectations of society placed pressure on frontline health care workers. This study examined these pressures in Wuhan, China. Data were collected from 1208 health care workers, and descriptive statistics and multiple linear regression were used to analyze the results.
The lack of PPE increased workload and inadequate training for healthcare workers exacerbated the pressures on healthcare workers. In addition, health care workers reported being spat upon and called ‘contagious rats’. There were also reports of vandalism of their property and assaults on public transport.
In addition to the pressures that health care workers face on the job, the researchers also looked at the factors that contribute to their stress levels. Most of them reported feeling too tired to perform tasks at home, particularly those involving children. Additionally, a high level of financial stress, loneliness, and a lack of quality time with their family were common factors, too.
These stressors add to the challenges of treating patients with severe illnesses, caring for critically ill colleagues, and communicating with family members. Moreover, some health care workers had to make ethical and emotionally fraught decisions about resource rationing and whether or not to resuscitate patients or admit them to the intensive care unit.
Keeping health care workers mentally and emotionally resilient is crucial in maintaining essential services during the COVID-19 virus outbreak. By anticipating these pressures, we can put in place the support necessary for their recovery. We must monitor their emotional and mental health and support them through institutional support and self-care strategies.
Stress and trauma among health care workers
The rise of pandemics and other emergencies puts health care staff at risk for stress and trauma. They are forced to make difficult decisions about who to treat and when, and often work alone or with limited access to personal protective equipment or medical supplies. They are also exposed to the risk of contracting a life-threatening illness and seeing patients suffer and die.
The symptoms of stress and trauma in health care workers can range from physical exhaustion to PTSD and beyond. In fact, a recent study found that an overwhelming majority of healthcare workers experienced a form of burnout syndrome, a condition in which workers suffer from chronic fatigue as a result of high workloads and stress at work. They also experienced other issues, including sleep problems and weight gain.
Stress and trauma can be difficult to recognize in health care staff, but there are some ways to combat them. Psychologists are increasingly implementing innovative strategies to help medical staff manage stress and trauma. Some are offering free therapy to health care workers. In addition, they are partnering with the EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Program’s Trauma Recovery Network to provide trauma-informed treatment.
In addition to the increased workload, health care workers also face the possibility of infections. As a result, they may be more prone to developing depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The stressors they face include their roles, the risks of infection, the heartbreak of losing a patient, and the fear of bringing the disease home.
Several factors have been linked to an increased risk of developing anxiety or depression in health care staff, including their gender, age, and social support. Moreover, occupational and workplace differences may also be important.
Patient safety culture
Patient safety culture in health care organizations is a key factor in the delivery of high-quality patient care. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) defines patient safety as the freedom from preventable injuries or other adverse events. Patients are admitted to hospitals for various health problems and may experience a variety of adverse events during the course of their care.
The patient safety culture of a health care organization is the sum of individual and group values, attitudes, perceptions, and competencies. It reflects an organization’s dedication to patient care and the style of management in the organization. The patient safety culture of a health care facility can be influenced by many factors, including the type of working environment and the number of working hours.
An evaluation of patient safety culture includes identifying and addressing the factors that negatively impact patient care. Organizations that demonstrate a high patient safety culture tend to have low rates of readmission, fewer complications, and fewer adverse events. There are a number of different patient safety culture assessments available for healthcare organizations. In the United States, the AHRQ developed a questionnaire called the Hospital Surveys on Patient Safety Culture (HSPC). It has 12 dimensions and 42 items.
Patient safety culture scores vary across different levels of experience and education. For example, nurses in CCU units were more likely to report high scores than those in general units. Moreover, nurses in ICU units were more likely to recognize that the health care setting is a positive environment for patient safety, compared to general unit nurses.
One study conducted among healthcare paramedics in the Fayoum Governorate of Egypt examined the perception of patient safety. The study included both urban and rural healthcare facilities. Although response rates were high, the study had some limitations.
Vaccination mandates for health care workers
Health care workers are a key part of the health care system, and a vaccine mandate can help protect them and their patients. The Supreme Court recently ruled that the federal government is permitted to enforce this vaccine mandate. Although many oppose mandates, they do support them in general and encourage their members to follow the rules. They also argue that vaccination mandates should be voluntary, and each health care worker should have the right to choose whether to receive the vaccine or not. They also point out that not all vaccines are safe, and that some additives used in vaccines can cause problems, even for people who aren’t allergic to them.
In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, the CMS issued interpretive guidance regarding the mandate for healthcare workers. According to the guidance, healthcare facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid must ensure that all employees receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Feb. 14, 2022, and the full dose by March 15, 2022. This change will impact 24 states and the District of Columbia. In Massachusetts, the new deadlines will apply to health care workers who work at hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living residences, hospice programs, and home care providers.
The new mandates also apply to state employees, vendors, and contractors. As a result, the state has enacted two public health orders that expand the scope of vaccination mandates. The first mandate requires all health care workers to get fully vaccinated by September 30, 2021. The second order requires workers to receive the second dose within two years of the first dose and requires testing for those who are unvaccinated. The order also applies to visitors at hospitals, intermediate care facilities, and skilled nursing facilities.