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Published on June 23, 2021

Overcoming the collective toll of the pandemic togetherWe all feel the lingering stress of the last year. Accessing help for ourselves can give us renewed strength to help others

By Mike Lauf, CEO and president, Cape Cod Healthcare

This issue of The Pulse contains a wealth of information for all of us who have been affected by the events of the past 16 months or so. The COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges to everyone, particularly those of us in healthcare. So many of you showed up to care for patients, right from the beginning, not knowing what it could mean for your own health. You showed up, you sacrificed, and you helped save this community.

But it undoubtedly took its toll, and you were not alone. A survey done in late 2020 by Mental Health America of more than 1,000 healthcare workers indicated that 93 percent of respondents were experiencing stress, 80 percent reported experiencing anxiety, and 76 percent said they were exhausted and burned out. Emotional exhaustion was the most common answer respondents gave when asked to describe how they were feeling.

None of us was immune to the stress the pandemic caused. We’re all dealing with it, and there shouldn’t be stigmas around challenges we are all facing. At the end of the day, we’re all human beings. We may have different titles, but not one of us is any more important than the other and we all deserve to receive the care and support we may need.

Those of us in healthcare are in this profession because we care about others. And we at Cape Cod Healthcare recognize that we also need to care for you, more so this year than ever. So many stressors have been introduced to us in society; not just the pandemic, but all of the trials and tribulations that every one of us face each and every day. We recognize that we have to be there for each other or we won’t be there to take care of others.

We want to give you the tools to manage your everyday stress, whether it be at work or at home. With that in mind, we have doubled down on our efforts to provide the resources, tools and information for you to better manage your own health – physical, mental and emotional. In this issue, you will learn about everything that is available to you, including the new Healthy Minds Hub developed by Dr. Kumara Sidhartha and his team. It’s an easy-to-access site with information and links to a variety of different behavioral health resources that are free and confidential.

In addition, our Employee Assistance Program offers a wide array of services that provide access to professionals, tools or information to efficiently manage the situations you’re dealing with. The program’s Live Support Line offers free 24/7 counseling services in the way that best suits your needs, including text, phone, chat or video.

The counseling services offered through the Employee Assistance Plan are not just for COVID-19 burnout. There are counselors and services available to help you reduce everyday stress, adjust to a life change, improve relationships, navigate legal services and more.

We also recognize the importance physical health plays in our overall mental and emotional well-being and that’s why we continue to enhance our Employee Wellness Program with new challenges to improve your physical fitness. The programs address exercise and ways to improve your diet, whether you want to be in groups, classes or events, or do it on your own. The Wellness Program also has online health screenings, exercise programs, such as the annual summer Healthy Parks Healthy People initiative, and ways you can join your local gym at a reduced rate. Yoga, tai chi and other integrative and holistic practices are also available.

All of our programs are confidential and are set up to be participative, so you can be as involved as you want to be, or just take advantage of the tools that best fit you. Either way, it’s aimed at helping support you, the caregivers in this system.

By offering tools like Dr. Sidhartha ’s Healthy Minds Hub, our Employee Assistance Program, and the Employee Wellness Program, we are offering you ways to identify if you are struggling and, if so, how we can help you address it by giving you access to the people, tools and information you need. In addition to these programs, you will learn about the Tufts Health Plan confidential services line and our own Behavioral Health phone consultation service.

As you peruse this issue of The Pulse, I think you will be impressed by the number and quality of information and resources that are available to you through our CCHC-sponsored programs and services. Our goal is to empower you, our workforce, and we will continue to tweak our offerings based on feedback from you, so that we continue to meet your needs head-on.

As we come out of this pandemic, we know it will take time to recover. But hopefully our programs and our people and the support we offer will give you the optimism and strength you need to go confidently into the future. We are committed to ensuring that you feel incredibly supported and remain healthy and well and live a great life.

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