Bridget Boeckman remembers the sinking sensation she felt in early March as she sat in her living room watching the television coverage coming out of Italy. COVID-19 was overwhelming that country’s health-care system and racking up an alarming death toll. As a nurse practitioner and the supervisor of the critical care advanced practice providers at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha, she knew she had to prepare her 32-member team for the virus’s impact on her medical facility.
“My team is used to dealing with emergencies, but I was concerned that they could become completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of the pandemic and prolonged duration of our response,” Boeckman says. “I knew our caseload would increase exponentially, and we could potentially face ethical situations, including having to triage scarce resources like ventilators. I decided to seek support for my staff early on.”
Boeckman did not have to look far. Psychologists and other behavioral health professionals at her hospital, part of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, have developed peer-support and resilience workshop programs to help all 8,000 employees deal with mental health issues during a crisis, such as a pandemic. Peer support is provided by telephone or audiovisual connection.