DiversityNursing Blog

Chief Wellness Officer - More Healthcare Organizations Are Adding CWO’s To Their C-Suite

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Oct 08, 2021 @ 03:06 PM

wellnessEven before the pandemic, healthcare providers experienced burnout and other negative mental health issues. Now more than ever, it is critical health systems take steps to support their staff's well-being.

Recently, more healthcare organizations have started to hire Chief Wellness Officers (CWO), as a strategy to address burnout, mental health, and compassion fatigue.

Jonathan Ripp MD, MPH, Chief Wellness Officer at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said there were only a handful of Chief Wellness Officer positions when he was appointed to the role in May 2018. “There has been at least a dozen more who have been named in the past year, and several more places that are looking to create the position,” said Dr. Ripp. “I would not be surprised if, 10 years from now, it's commonplace for most large organizations to have a Chief Wellness Officer or equivalent, taking this challenge on, and doing so in a way that is effective.”

The ultimate goal of this role is to aid system-wide changes that enable staff to practice in a culture that prioritizes and promotes mental health and well-being.

The CWO is responsible for measuring well-being across their organization. Then, they create and implement wellness programs that address the current environment causing burnout and stress.

The hiring of a CWO is not a remedy all on its own. The CWO works in collaboration with other leaders and staff to prioritize well-being and would ultimately lower costs and improve patient care.

According to Beckers Hospital Review, burnout and depression result in major costs to health systems due to an increase in medical errors, reduced quality of care, and turnover. Research has found that for every dollar invested in wellness, hospitals can see a $3 to $6 return on investment.

Medical Schools are also following the hiring trend.

According to Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School, medical students are more likely to experience burnout and depression than peers on different career paths. To confront the challenge head-on, they appointed their first Chief Wellness Officer, Dr. Kelly Holder.

Holder said, "Mental and emotional wellness is essential to complete health. We simply cannot ignore this fact. I view my role as another way to serve the students, faculty and physicians in Brown’s medical school, and aid them in not just meeting their immediate self-care needs but also creating and developing plans that can help them learn more about how to take care of themselves in a way that's sustainable for a profession that demands a lot."

“Wellness and self-care is more important than ever before. These next few years will be critical for health care workers as we address the mental and physical burdens from COVID-19,” said George Washington University's Chief Wellness Officer, Lorenzo Norris, MD.

Hopefully this position sticks around, even after the pandemic passes, because burnout and mental health have been issues in the healthcare field all along.

Topics: mental health, compassion fatigue, burnout, hospitals, Nurse burnout, healthcare organizations, frontline workers, front line workers mental health, compassion fatigue in nursing, C-Suite, Chief Wellness Officers, CWO

Creative Ways Hospitals Are Supporting Nurses Mental Health

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, May 12, 2021 @ 02:41 PM

nursestressBefore the COVID-19 pandemic, Nursing was known to be a stressful profession. There was plenty of data showing burnout to be a significant problem among US Nurses.

With increasing stress placed on front line Nurses during this pandemic, hospitals are investing in initiatives and programs to support the mental health of these employees.

Mount Sinai Health System, created recharge rooms for healthcare workers. Dr. Putrino and his team created multi-sensory experiences that can reduce stress in just 15 minutes. These rooms are filled with faux plants and candles, illuminated with calming lights and one wall displays relaxing scenes and sounds. Slider5-Episode38-Recharge-750x400Putrino said, "Listen, what we need is a space or a series of spaces where our healthcare workers can sit down and for just a moment have a lot of their stress just relieved and taken away from them."

Stony Brook Medicine used a similar idea when creating a respite room called "Resilience at the Brook." The large, peaceful area features plants, calming wall art, a pod for private mediation, and relaxing materials, such as coloring books and miniature Zen gardens, to help employees rejuvenate. Employees can also add encouraging messages and quotes to inspire each other on the Motivation Mural Wall.

CharminOhio State University Medical Center (OSUMC) Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program uses the Buckeye Paws program. A group of certified therapy dogs visit to provide comfort and emotional support to healthcare staff.

Emily Fawcett, R.N., a float Nurse on all floors at Lenox Hill hospital, started "hope huddles." Hope huddles are held at the beginning of shift changes and Nurses gather together to share news of patients recovering and other inspiring, and even humorous, stories.

Cody Regional Health created a wellness area for employees. The new space, staffed 24/7, includes a meditation room, eight bedrooms with private bathrooms, laundry and shower facilities, on-site access to licensed therapists for emotional support, puzzles and games, and an exercise area to meet employees’ needs.

Elise Phelan, a surgical unit Charge Nurse at UCHealth created the Resilience Program. Phelan would bring in massage therapists, movement therapists, yoga instructors, nutritionists and sometimes therapy puppies.

Code Lavender began in 2008 with Earl Bakken at North Hawaii Community Hospital. Calling the code signals to the Code Lavender team that an individual or group of individuals are in need of emergency psychological assistance.

Many hospitals like Cleveland Clinic have started implementing this code. The Code Lavender team usually comprises representatives from the spiritual care and healing services departments, and other hospital-based support services (such as employee assistance, music therapy, wellness, the ethics consultation service, and art therapy), and volunteers.
Code-Lavender

Bayhealth offers staff Code Lavender Kits. Kits include a back massager, aromatherapy inhalers, LED candles, a sound machine, Code Lavender journals, and a tote to store everything in.

It's very clear there is a need for this kind of support and innovation. The well-being and morale of front line workers should remain a top priority even after the pandemic.

Topics: mental health, mental health nursing, front line workers mental health, mental health support programs, nurses mental health

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