Meyer Bellehsen, PhD, director of CTSRR, noted that, “While our health care workers embody strength and resilience, the persistent stress caused by the pandemic can take a toll on anyone,’’ he said. “Northwell is pioneering in the establishment of the CTSRR to enhance resilience among employees and to address the traumatic stress caused by COVID-19. We want to make sure that our team members have the resources and support they need to adapt and thrive.”
During a press conference to announce the center’s opening, three staff members who served on the frontline during the pandemic – an emergency room doctor, an intensive care nurse and an environmental services worker – shared their personal insights as well as videos recounting their work during this critical year and how it has affected them, both on the job and at home.
“The next phase of this pandemic will be the fallout from all the trauma our front-line workers have seen during this time—loss of lives, isolation, separation from family, and so much more,” said Fred Davis, DO, associate chair of the Emergency Department at Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJ). “A center of this type will validate the feelings of all those who served on the front lines.”
Mr. Rivera, a COVID-19 survivor, said, “In a very short time, I lost my grandmother and my father. During this time, my co-workers at the hospital were scared. We were all scared…we had no idea what was happening. We’ve all experienced so much loss…I can’t express how important this center is to people like me.”
One of the most powerful stories belonged to Carlos Rivera, who serves as an environmental services worker at Cohen Children’s Medical Center. Mr. Rivera’s grandmother passed away from COVID on April 4, 2020. His beloved father passed away from the disease 10 days later on April 14, one year to the day of the center’s announced opening.
The CTSRR, led by Dr. Bellehsen, represents a partnership of the health system’s Behavioral Health service line with Human Resources and the Department of Occupational Medicine, Epidemiology and Prevention.
“This past year was something that no one has ever seen before,” she said. “We were saying goodbye to patients every day and the memories of that continue to be very painful. Now that it’s slowing down a bit, we all have more time to reflect on what we’ve seen and how to process all of these experiences. That’s why this center will be so important to so many people.”
Elyse Isopo, NP, an intensive care nurse at North Shore University Hospital, spoke with emotion about the toll COVID-19 continues to take on her and her colleagues.
About Northwell Health
“Northwell is committed to supporting the comprehensive well-being of our team members, including helping them manage the stress generated by COVID-19 and other factors,” said Maxine Carrington, senior vice president and Chief Human Resources Officer. “We are proud to be standing up this novel program. The innovative services at CTSRR will provide supports to our team members and their families so as to build resilience and address the impact of these stressors.”
Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 23 hospitals, 830 outpatient facilities and more than 16,600 affiliated physicians. We care for over two million people annually in the New York metro area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 76,000 employees – 18,900 nurses and 4,800 employed doctors, including members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. We’re training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the Hofstra Northwell School of Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit Northwell.edu and follow us @NorthwellHealth on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
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