As the COVID-19 pandemic continues into a 3rd year, the Biden administration on Thursday announced the release of $103 million to help address burnout and emotional distress among the country’s health care workforce.
The funds will come from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and be awarded over the next 3 years to 45 different grantees, according to a statement from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Based in part on the ongoing and alarming rate of attrition among employees at all levels of health care, the awards aim to improve the “high stress environment” of an industry that had already once been stretched beyond capacity before the current omicron-driven surge in infections.
“I have traveled to many health centers across the country and know that the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified issues that have long been a source of stress for frontline health care workers — from increased patient volumes to long working hours,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in the HHS statement.
He asserted that the Biden administration is committed to ensuring the nation has adequate “critical frontline workers by supporting [them] now and beyond as they face burnout and mental health challenges. We will continue to promote the well-being of those who have made so many sacrifices to keep others well.”
COVID-19 has compounded rates of depression and anxiety among health
care workers. The relentless physical and emotional demands of
treating patients during a pandemic have exacerbated longstanding
barriers to workplace well-being.
While the challenge is complex, these multi-year awards will support proven strategies for health care providers, academic institutions, and other recipients to reduce burnout and build resiliency.
The ARP awards will fund evidence-informed programs, practices, and training, with a particular focus on providers in underserved and rural communities, according to the statement. The Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) will make the awards through 3 programs:
All strategies will include developing partnerships and using local resources to directly support health professionals’ response to workplace stressors and provide training to help individuals manage the constantly changing, high-stress environment of health care.
“Now more than ever, it is critical to support the well-being of our health care workforce, who are working every day to protect each of us,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson. “Today’s awards will provide new tools to help support our health professionals’ resilience as they continue to face the stress and challenges of responding to COVID-19 and other health care needs and provide high quality care.”