Providers and patients interact very differently with one another now post-COVID than they did in the pre-pandemic world. Providers have a whole new burden of constant hygiene, diligence and social distancing placed on them in order to maintain their patients’ trust in them, while patients must be encouraged to return to the office for issues outside of those that can successfully be detected and treated through telehealth means. In order to be a successful provider in this post-pandemic world, providers must think about what it means to support their team during COVID-19.
Pharmacists are feeling a lot of stress. They are feeling a lot of exposure,” said Matthew Lacroix, president-elect of the Rhode Island Pharmacists Association. For this reason, it is important to set boundaries with patients and staff. Acknowledge that things aren’t normal and that this is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime situation that calls for unique, once-in-a-lifetime protocols.
Setting boundaries looks different for different providers. Leaders should help their teams “create clear temporal boundaries” between professional and personal lives, advise Laura M. Giurge, at the University of Oxford, and Vanessa K. Bohns at Cornell University. This is critical because a lack of such divides between the personal and professional can quickly lead to burn-out.
Maintaining temporal boundaries is especially urgent when it comes to both personal well being and work engagement, considering many employees must now deal with child or elder care responsibilities during regular work hours. Even employees without such responsibilities suffer from the degradation of temporal boundaries, thanks to the handy devices in our pockets that make it so easy to take our work with us.
As life has been completely upended for many people, with schools and colleges opening and shutting down seemingly week-by-week, your employees may be feeling the pressure, as might you. By encouraging an atmosphere where people feel comfortable asking for help, you support your team during these difficult times and help them to support you as well.
Nearly 70% of adults say coronavirus is the most stressful period of their entire career—even more than major events like 9/11 and the 2008 Great Recession, according to mental health provider Ginger. The rate of severe distress for adults living at home with kids under the age of 18 rose from just 3% in 2018 to 37% last month, according to a Time investigation into mental health during COVID-19.
With stress and distress numbers like these, you want to encourage your team to ask for what they need and anticipate those needs if you can.
If you are a provider, work with a pharmacy that can help with prior authorizations or reduce the amount of paperwork you need to spend going back and forth. Make sure all the providers and care team members you work with really contribute to one another’s success.
Leverage both your internal and external team and examine how you can all work together to get things done, communicate effectively and aid one another. “Above all else, authentic care is the most impactful resource an employer can offer,” said Reetu Sandhu, a manager at the Limeade Institute, which conducts research about wellbeing.
Whatever you choose to do to support your team during COVID-19, make sure you do what you need to take care of yourself and your team. Being a provider means being a leader, and what leaders provide at this critical time is invaluable. During this pandemic, you are providing a huge service to your community, and that is something you and your team can lean on with pride.