In response to the continuing occupational stress brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System is supporting the emotional recovery of staff through programs that encourage healing, connection and growth.
A Healing Retreat
In August 2021, the 1440 Multiversity Foundation and the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital Foundation funded more than 50 SVMHS employees’ attendance at a two-day retreat called “Healing Our Healthcare Heroes” in the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains.
“The program’s goal is to help with healing. Attendees learned from expert speakers how to identify and cope with traumatic experiences.”
Michelle Childs, SVMHS Chief Human Resources Officer
Participants shared their experiences, learned healthy ways to deal with trauma, and are receiving a year of ongoing support resources. “The program’s goal is to help with healing. Attendees learned from expert speakers how to identify and cope with traumatic experiences,” says Michelle Childs, Chief Human Resources Officer at SVMHS.
Becky Rodriguez, BSN, RN, CEN, says of the retreat, “It was a special way to share struggles, self-reflect and learn techniques to begin healing.”
There are plans to share the benefits of this retreat throughout SVMHS by encouraging those who attended to share what they learned.
A System of Support
Expanding on its 2019 involvement in the BETA HEART® Care for the Caregiver program, which provides resources and guidance to support healthcare workers’ physical and emotional well-being, SVMHS began efforts to launch its own one-on-one support program for employees who experience a traumatic event at work. After a pause due to COVID-19, Code Lavender launched in December 2021.
“After COVID-19 hit, it was more apparent than ever that we needed this kind of program,” says Carla Spencer, Director of Critical Care & Emergency Services at SVMHS. “We chose 61 peer supporters who work in many different roles throughout the hospital and trained and certified them through a BETA HEART program. Code Lavender is activated through a secure texting program, and peer supporters are dispatched to aid colleagues in similar roles who’ve experienced trauma.”
Spencer says SVMHS will be launching more Care for the Caregiver initiatives going forward, such as coordinated education and discussion on sensitive subjects, social worker and leader support, and wellness programs.