Photo Courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
“To those who are struggling: your city hears you, we see you, and help is on the way,” Mayor de Blasio said.
By Michael V. Cusenza
A collaboration between the U.S. Department of Defense, NYC Health + Hospitals, and Greater New York Hospital Association will provide mental health programs to support health care workers and first responders on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray recently announced.
According to de Blasio, the new program will tailor elements of the DOD’s combat stress management and resilience program for military personnel into needs assessments and a webinar training series to be used in civilian healthcare and first responder settings across the five boroughs. Trainings are expected to be available by the end of May.
“Our frontline heroes are fighting a war on two fronts,” de Blasio said. “They have been through so much to protect their fellow New Yorkers, and we will not allow them to shoulder the mental toll of this pandemic alone. To those who are struggling: your city hears you, we see you, and help is on the way.”
According to the administration, behavioral health and staff support leaders at local hospitals will receive formal training from military subject matter experts. Those who receive training will facilitate trainings to mental health specialists, spiritual care and second victim program leads at their respective health care systems. The “Train the Trainer” education will be available virtually on GHNYA hosted webinars for all participating NYC healthcare systems. To better support health care workers, in-person and virtual training sessions can be customized based on targeted needs assessments.
The DOD-led webinar trainings will begin late May for health care systems. NYC Health + Hospitals will begin to deploy trainers for facility-based trainings in early June.
“We are in the epicenter of this pandemic and our heroic healthcare workers are on the front lines providing lifesaving support to New Yorkers. Our providers are experiencing an immense amount of emotional-psychological trauma and stress, especially at our hardest-hit hospitals,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “At NYC Health + Hospitals, we value each employee and we are grateful to the Mayor and DoD that we will able to support our workforce as they began to process, heal and move forward.”
Additionally, on Thursday, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) led members of the New York congressional delegation in sending a letter to President Donald Trump calling for the next coronavirus relief package to include mental health resources for frontline health care workers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our brave frontline health care workers have been our heroes throughout this pandemic,” Meng said. “They have made enormous and selfless sacrifices, putting their safety on the line to care for patients and save lives. But the stress and anxiety from the exhaustive work they do is taking a huge emotional toll on many of these professionals. The impact of this pandemic on our health care community will be long-lasting; it may even outlast the coronavirus itself. The president and congressional leaders must make the mental health needs of our health care workers an essential and urgent priority, and I will continue to call for them to do so.”