LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Health-care workers care for us when our health depends on them, but who cares for these workers when they need help? Gundersen Health System carries its own Employee Assistance Program to help employees who struggle with work stress and other mental stressors.
The pandemic has taken its toll on many health-care workers and the leader of this program agrees based on the calls they receive. We’ve heard the stories about the stress felt inside hospital walls.
“It’s been a different job in the last couple of years,” said Amber Sherman, manager of Gundersen’s Employee Assistance Program.
Health-care shortages and turnover always have been a problem. COVID-19 only pushed “… an already over-taxed hospital workforce being required to care for more patients” to the edge, according to a 2020 Wisconsin Hospital Association Workforce report.
Health-care workers know how to care for patients.
“We’re a free confidential counseling service,” Sherman said.
Sherman leads a team that returns the favor when life becomes too much.
“Marital, job stress, work stress, caregiver stress is a big one that we see,” Sherman said.
Job stress exists now more than ever for healthcare systems across Wisconsin and the U.S. The American Medical Association surveyed 64,000 medical professionals across 29 states. More than half of all physicians, nurses, and hospital-based employees say they feel burnt out.
“We’re definitely busy,” Sherman said. “We serve a lot of people.”
As Omicron spreads and a new flu season emerges, experts expect more weight on hospital workers.
“Yeah, it’s been a tough run. I think it speaks to, again, we’re very busy,” Sherman said. “We see a lot of people particularly at risk for burnout in health care.”
Sherman and her team hope Gundersen’s staff will call if they need help.
“One thing that we pride ourselves on is easy access,” she said.
While health leaders routinely care for others, Sherman wants them to know there’s always someone around to care for them.
Sherman said they offer training at Gundersen to help people find ways to boost mental wellness. They also offer these services to other businesses in the La Crosse region.
Gundersen Employees can call (608) 775-4780 or (800) 327-9991. The email for this service is [email protected]
More information about the program can be found here. For other community mental health resources, call 211 or visit www.greatrivers211.org
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