Jasmine Sandoval, a former combat medic in the U.S. Army and the nurse manager of clinical operations at Nicklaus, created Project D.E.A.R. as her doctoral project while studying at the University of Miami.
“We needed a hospital-wide standardized process for debriefing after a critical event,” Sandoval said. “The feedback has been great. Participants have expressed how they felt it was necessary and appreciate it.”
Mental health support for nurses
CHAT (Connecting, Healing and Achieving Together), another Nicklaus Hospital initiative, was developed by the psychiatric nursing team to provide mental health support and group sharing sessions. The sessions, 30 so far, provide a safe space for nurses to share their experiences, discuss stressors and support each other. The program has mental health experts on call and available nearly all the time.
Other hospitals have implemented similar programs. Last year, a mental health team from Baptist Health’s Community Health and Well Being began offering onsite emotional support, debriefing sessions for nurses and other staff and education on stress management. The team also facilitates meditation and mindfulness activities. Its main focus is supporting nurses working in the ICU, NICU and COVID ICU.
Even before the pandemic, numerous studies have warned about fatigue and burnout among healthcare workers, especially nurses. The last two years have certainly compounded those effects.
Suzy Castro, director of inpatient psychiatry and lead on the CHAT program’s development at Nicklaus, says the feedback has been great so far and hopes the program continues to support more hospital staff.
“When we started creating this program, it had nothing to do with the pandemic, yet so many more people have benefited than we ever expected,” Castro said.
Memorial Healthcare System introduced group prayers during the pandemic for its nurses, along with weekly meditations, Zumba classes, free counseling sessions and outdoor yoga programs.
Jackson Memorial Hospital and Mount Sinai Medical Center, too, have offered yoga programs for its employees during the pandemic.
“We found that some nurses wanted to relax while others needed the workouts to help them recharge,” Yanet Obarrio Sanchez, a Memorial spokeswoman, said in an email.
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