GNYHA Wellness Workgroup Highlights “Second Victim” Programs

November 19, 2018

GNYHA’s November 13 Wellness Workgroup focused on peer support programs designed to ease the emotional distress that health care workers can experience after an adverse event such as an unexpected patient death. As part of this phenomenon, health care workers are often described as “second victims,” with research demonstrating that one in two health care workers will have such an experience during their professional career.

Meeting participants learned about two such peer support programs at member institutions. Northwell Health Vice President for Patient and Customer Experience Agnes Barden discussed the events that catalyzed its Team Lavender program creation, which is now operational at 12 Northwell system hospitals. Jeremy Segall, Senior Director, System Performance Improvement, Office of Quality & Safety, at NYC Health + Hospitals (NYC H + H), shared his system’s experience in rolling out the Helping Healers Heal (H3) program at all 11 NYC H + H hospitals. NYC H + H’s new leadership team made the implementation of this program, which was first developed in Los Angeles County, a top system-level priority.

Both programs rely on trained peers who offer support to individuals and groups in the immediate aftermath of an adverse event, as well as referrals to additional services such as Employee Assistance Programs and professional counseling, as needed. The trained peers are multidisciplinary groups that typically include clinicians, social workers, and chaplains. A unit manager or an employee can request a peer support encounter. Ms. Barden described the quick uptake and deep appreciation of Northwell staff who have benefited from Team Lavender. Mr. Segall noted that similar levels of enthusiasm have been seen for the H3 program, which launched this summer. More than 400 staff members have been trained for H3 and more than 75 support encounters have occurred.

GNYHA Vice President of Survey and Outcomes Research Jared Bosk led a discussion on Culture of Safety surveys, which hospitals are required to administer, and how the surveys can be used to assess issues related to second victimhood. Additional Wellness Workgroup topics included updates on national and regional efforts related to clinician wellbeing, and wellness-related GNYHA programming planned for the coming year.