HELENA — Healthcare workers have been the backbone of the pandemic. But through their jobs, they have been exposed to many traumatic events.
To help these front-line workers St. Peter’s Health designed an in-house employee wellness team to ensure that the nurses, doctors, and caregivers can have healthy minds and bodies.
“We are exposed on a daily basis to secondary trauma and what's important with a position like this is being able to promote resilience and allow an outlet for employees to be able to discuss those stressors,” said Tina Stern, St. Peter's Health clinical social worker.
The hospital hired Stern in 2021. With her, the employee health team has navigated the trauma and struggles that the 1,700 employees of the hospital have gone through, and continue to go through as part of the pandemic.
The support goes beyond emotional and physical wellness. It also includes family support.
"One of the things that I helped out with was just trying to help people with childcare and so it became crucial in that moment to get our kids taken care of so that our health care workers could come to work and take care of people,” said McCall Elverum, a registered nurse at St. Peter's Health.
The St. Peter’s Health Employee Wellness team also helps the community realize that professionals and experts in health often need help too.
“We also want our community to not look at us as just the professional or experts in health and Wellness but that we are actually leaders of character that we set the stage and show our community that this is what health and wellness looks like and come along that journey with us so that we really can make community the healthiest community in the country,” said Amy Emmert, the wellness team manager.
The next step for Tina and the wellness team is to create an anonymous interactive screening program for employees. It will allow St. Peter's Health employees to anonymously complete a questionnaire to help determine if they're struggling with mental health issues.