As Covid-19 has been going on for years, many national medical institutions are dedicated to responding to the pandemic. Myongji Hospital is also among the institutions that have actively responded to Covid-19 since the outbreak began.

One of the common issues facing medical institutions responding to Covid-19 is “medical staff burnout”. As the country has seen several waves of Covid-19 since 2020, medical workers and other employees at many medical facilities are complaining of physical and mental pain.

Therefore, quarantine authorities are also implementing various policies, including mental health support, to address the issue of medical staff burnout.

Employees attend music therapy, one of the resilience programs offered by Myongji Hospital to comfort its staff struggling to respond to Covid-19. (Credit: Myongji Hospital)

Myongji Hospital, which responded proactively and positively to the Covid-19 pandemic, predicted the situation ahead of quarantine authorities.

Thus, the hospital conducted its independent “resilience” program to diagnose employee situations and seek various solutions from the start of the epidemic and plans to share its know-how in the “HiPex (Hospital Innovation and Patient Experience Conference) 2022” in the hospital from October 28 to 28.

Ahead of the annual conference, Korea Biomedical Review sat down with Dr. Lee Su-young, professor of neuropsychiatry and head of the hospital’s Patient Empathy Center who runs the resilience program, to get a glimpse of the expertise that will be presented at HiPex2022.

Pursue countermeasures, which are not rigid but adapted to the situation

The key to Myongji Hospital’s resilience program is to continuously monitor the mental health of hospital workers amid the Covid-19 response and find appropriate solutions.

“Myongji Hospital, which experienced confusion during the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) attack, shared all situations with employees from the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The hospital has taken the mental health of employees into its own hands through investigation since the first Covid-19 patient was hospitalized,” Lee said. “Three or four months later, the epidemic started in earnest.”

Nurses on the Covid-19 ward had to live on the ward and eat on the ward, Lee recalled. “An intensive mental health survey of nurses around June 2020 showed that a third of them were in poor condition,” she added.

Subsequently, the hospital began managing nurses’ mental health by offering one-on-one counseling if nurses needed it. If they do not need individual counseling but still require care, the hospital frequently checks their status through an exclusively responsible education nurse.

“Through these steps, we were able to significantly reduce nurses’ anxiety, although we could not completely erase their depressive feelings (from responding to Covid-19),” Professor Lee said.

Based on these experiences, the hospital launched a full-fledged resilience program named “Rest” with the advent of the third wave in late 2020, consisting of meditation, music therapy and the provision of good meals by chefs. guests.

In conducting an employee survey, the hospital concluded that this was not a grandiose way to comfort tired workers, but to recognize their hard work and give them time to rest.

After that, Myongji Hospital kept considering and implementing programs suitable for the situation, such as expanding and developing existing programs in 2021 and organizing the “Corona Blues Treatment Support Group” in the hospital to prepare for the extension of Covid-19. .

Through this, he introduced various programs for employees tired of the protracted Covid-19 response, such as “creating healing books” for all employees, leisure support and the hospital life vlog challenge. , and saw the effect of recovering the mental health index of employees.

How can the resilience program be applied to other hospitals?

Myongji Hospital’s management of the mental health of its employees through the Resilience Program combines its positivity that has applied lessons from MERS on the ground simultaneously with the advent of Covid-19 and its continued pursuit of “l ‘improvement of the organizational culture’.

If so, are the achievements of Myongji Hospital difficult to compare and present to other hospitals? No they are not.

“We understand that only a few large business groups provide psychological counseling services for employee welfare in Korea. Hospitals also run related programs, but their atmospheres vary widely,” Lee said. “Myongji Hospital’s case is significant because it established an independent unit in accordance with President Lee Wang-jun’s intention.”

Lee noted that to introduce a program like the resilience of Myongji Hospital, changing the perception of hospital managers is a prerequisite, pointing out that these managers should think that they are taking part of the hospital’s income and use it for the employees, not to make a profit from the program.

“It’s not easy to get tangible results from investigating and improving employee mental health,” Lee said. “We need to invest manpower and resources, but it is difficult to determine how much this has actually helped the staff.

Lee noted that even without Covid-19, job seekers today view work-life balance as important when choosing a job, adding that supporting employees by creating various hospital programs would be a more for the competitiveness of hospitals.

“There are many things the hospital can do on its own that it should try, but there is a limit to the hospital’s own efforts,” the neuropsychiatrist said. “After all, there should be government or local government support (to address medical staff burnout) in terms of manpower and funds.”

If an employee of a medical institution is exhausted, it will likely lead to medical accidents and poor medical quality, Lee pointed out.

“This explains why resilience programs for hospital staff are essential to improving the quality of medical services,” Lee said in conclusion.

People can get more details about Myongji Hospital’s resilience program during HiPex 2022 held online and offline at Myongji Hospital in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, from Oct. 26 to 28.

Myongji Hospital will present its case through “The Resilience of Hospital Employees in the Age of Covid-19” presented by Professor Lee at 9 a.m. on October 28, and “The Real Application Experience of Addiction Program” which will be shared by Lee Ji-youn, a clinical advisor.

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