The Joint Commission (TJC) has issued the first in a series of special edition Sentinel Event Alerts aimed at addressing concerns raised by healthcare workers as they respond to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.1

The accrediting agency notes the feedback it has received from healthcare workers to its Office of Quality and Patient Safety underscores three main concerns: fear of the unknown, fear of contracting the virus, and fear of bringing the virus home.

Further bolstering these findings is a study commissioned by TJC to gain insight from healthcare organizations on the short-term and long-term effects of the crisis. Organizations reported their workers remain concerned about their physical and mental health and the well-being of their families. There also are concerns about current and future staffing shortages, along with job and pay security, considering pandemic-related staffing reductions and reported furloughs.

In light of these multiple, ongoing worries, TJC recommends five ways leaders can support staff:

  • Foster open and transparent communication to build trust, alleviate fears, and sustain an effective workforce.
  • Remove barriers to mental healthcare services and support systems that bolster institutional and individual resilience.
  • Use the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Hierarchy of Controls framework to protect worker safety.2
  • Develop as much flexibility as possible by identifying work that can be performed remotely.
  • Nurture opportunities for clinicians and other workers to collaborate and innovate.

REFERENCES

  1. The Joint Commission. Sentinel Event Alert 62: Health care workers in the midst of crisis. Feb. 2, 2021.
  2. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Hierarchy of Controls. Page last reviewed Jan. 13, 2015.