Six months into the pandemic, and the fatigue is real. COVID-19 is somewhat at bay, and we find ourselves in a pocket of sunshine. While we cautiously revel in this temporary delight, it’s important to take a moment to reflect. Despite the disruptions to work-life balance and all the social distancing measures, as a community we grew closer and stronger. While there are many lessons learned during COVID, there is much to suggest self-care is truly essential. Establishing self-care as a priority during the pandemic supported the tremendous progress in the battle against COVID-19, both at an individual level and as an organization.
Recognizing the tremendous sacrifice and heroism of frontline healthcare providers, North York General was quick to develop a framework to recognize staff, offer support and promote wellness on an ongoing basis. In our response to COVID, the physical and psychosocial wellbeing of our staff, physicians, learners and volunteers has been a priority. The hospital’s Occupational Health, Safety and Wellness department implemented initiatives and provided resources to cultivate resilience, manage stress, and strengthen teamwork. Chantel Brammer, a Rehab and Wellness Specialist at NYGH, has been spearheading the hospital’s emphasis on wellness to curb burnout and support staff working during these unprecedented times.
Chantel coordinated resources to encourage healthy choices and motivate holistic self-care practices. This included resources to support the importance of healthy eating and nutrition to fuel the body and mind, meditation and mindfulness sessions, movement and physical activity challenges, as well as a psychiatrist run support group for managing stress and emotions during the pandemic. Acknowledging the hard work of staff and creating an uplifting environment to inspire positivity and a strong sense of morale, has been a daily goal at North York General. Hallways have been lined with inspiring quotes, messages of gratitude, and reminders for staff to check-in and recharge.
In healthcare, self-care is often analogous to the oxygen masks on an airplane. Passengers are always instructed to secure their own oxygen mask before assisting others. This principle suggests we take care of our own needs first. Without oxygen, we are unable to help those around us.
With International Self-Care Day just around the corner, The Pulse turned to NYGH's dedicated heroes to learn how they cope and navigate the new normal in order to care for patients and their own families.