By Allison O’Connor, TRUST President
Remember the “Groundhog Day” movie where Bill Murray gets stuck in a time loop and lives the same day over and over? Two years into the COVID pandemic, I’m feeling déjà vu that I’ve been through these days before. Because I have; we all have.
The earliest days of the pandemic were definitely unprecedented, and we moved into challenging days and then hopeful days once we had vaccines. But viruses have a way of changing the game, and when the Delta and Omicron variants pushed health care systems to the brink, hope felt hard to come by.
In December, leaders from nine Minnesota health systems released a joint statement via a full-page ad in newspapers statewide to warn of the significant COVID strain on hospitals and how many health care professionals were “demoralized.” In January, The Washington Post wrote about hospitals nationwide running low on hope, and the American Medical Association (AMA) talked about burnout among physicians.
So, what can members of the Women’s Health Leadership TRUST do?
- Continue to inspire hope. As I write this blog, the Mayo Clinic is projecting the Omicron variant will peak soon, which is anticipated to return COVID levels to those seen late summer 2021. And there’s hope this latest surge is the beginning of COVID moving from pandemic to endemic.
- Encourage health care peers to get help when needed. COVID has affected us all in many ways and health care professionals on the front lines have had added stress impacting their mental and emotional health. The Minnesota Department of Health offers several mental health and resiliency tools for health care workers. AMA provides resources for health care leadership and caregivers. NAMI Minnesota also has numerous resources available online. Please share available resources with your organizations, friends and family members in the profession and help them find the support they need.
- Donate blood. The dangerously low blood supply impacts how well our health care professionals can treat their patients. Help them help others by donating blood today.
- Follow protocols. Health guidelines for vaccinations/boosters, social distancing and wearing masks in public continue to be important ways we can all help health care professionals.
- Say thank you. Kind words can help lift the spirits of health care workers. No compassionate deed is too small; even a short note of encouragement or a free cup of coffee can bring a smile.
- Support health care peers seeking new roles. Many health care professionals are seeking new positions for a variety of reasons. You can help these professionals ease the transition and contribute to their development by listening to their needs, making introductions for networking and providing learning experiences.
Today’s challenges may seem unending some days; however, please remember that it will get better. “When all seems lost, and there is no hope left, remember that this time will pass, and you will look back and see how it made you stronger.” ~ Anonymous
Allison O’Connor serves as the 2022 TRUST President and is Vice President of Strategy Execution at Lifespark. Allison has also held roles as Board Chair with the American College of Healthcare Executives Minnesota Chapter and Minnesota Rural Health Association, Vice-Chair with Cedar Riverside People’s Center and is a current Board member with American Red Cross North Central Blood Services North Region.