The first two years of Covid-19: 5 inspiring lessons for every hospital leader

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly served as a wake-up call for us in many areas of our everyday lives. We may have taken many of these normalities for granted, exposing us to many risks as people, professionals, and members of society. Acute pandemic vulnerability necessitates fast adaptation and imaginative problem-solving. Some of the ideas proposed throughout the last two years were well-founded, sensible, innovative, and possibly should have been applied years ago. As we grow, we learn. Here are five lessons that the pandemic has taught hospital leaders.

The administration should ensure timely help, guidance, and consultation to meet changing workforce demands during a crisis.

This necessitates a grasp of how disasters affect people’s emotional well-being and the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses. In addition to personal protective equipment, 24-hour access to healthy food, secure housing, and reliable transportation may be advocated for by Chief Wellness Officers during a rise in infectious diseases. Peer support, mainly psychological first aid, is essential during a crisis.

During a pandemic, leaders may create a strong peer support network by preparing their employees for the everyday pressures of patient care. Sharing their first-hand experiences with leadership may also be a way for peer support volunteers to connect with the organization.

Workforce satisfaction and the utilization of support services should be a priority for management. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an environment “that attracts individuals into the health profession, encourages them to remain in the health workforce, and enables them to perform effectively to facilitate better adaptation” is one that leadership has to help create and maintain.

In the COVID-19 pandemic, mood boosters were extensively utilized. The “healthcare heroes,” who were also showered with praise, posters, and songs, were offered free food and beverages throughout the day in many areas of the United States. The short-term benefits of these measures may be seen as diversions from addressing the significant issues that frontline workers and other healthcare professionals confront in safeguarding their health and well-being at work, as pointed out by Helen Wood from the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University.

Instead of relying on short-term incentives, we need to fund and speed up initiatives to safeguard healthcare workers against long-term stressors. In public health situations, proven treatment should be used to alleviate psychological distress. There should be less stigma attached to mental health issues. Healthcare leaders and decision-makers should promote a more open, trusting, respectful, egalitarian, and empathic work environment. Learn how Healing Breaths is working with healthcare institution leaders to promote a culture of wellness.

Leaders need to recognize the need to develop a new normal of increased functioning and concentrate on post-traumatic growth and resilience. 

According to a WHO evaluation of the impact of the virus on mental health, neurological, and drug-use services, 130 nations’ mental health systems have been impacted. Healthcare systems need to be driven by the patient and provider needs rather than efficiency and profit considerations.

COVID-19 and the need for mental health action are discussed in a new United Nations policy document, which recommends that hospital administrators implement systematic measures to help aid, minimize, and manage the pandemic’s mental health effects. Mental health and psychological help may be made widely available in an emergency, and efforts to aid recovery from COVID-19 can be encouraged by establishing long-term mental health facilities.

Co-production, which incorporates the involvement of healthcare practitioners and patients, may also help by sharing power and delivering crucial insights to individuals and organizations during a crisis.

All levels of communication must be upgraded for effectiveness and openness.

Macroeconomic factors, as well as statistics and prediction models for mortality and incidence, are often discussed in the media and on social media. It seems improbable that the amount or quality of a local leader’s communication matters, yet it does. As a result, the leader’s silence is seen as bad “local” news. As a leader, you must communicate with your team, company, and region to create reality and clearly understand what’s happening.

Clear, consistent, and adaptable communication is essential. Robert Cherry, MD, chief medical and quality officer of UCLA Health, said that communication, even over-communication, is vital. “Not just because you have to give necessary information to people, but it also makes them feel healthier, more productive, and engaged as a member of your larger workforce.”

Professionalism must return to the healthcare industry, focusing on purpose and fundamental values.

An opportunity to review one’s values arises in times of crisis. During difficult times, an excellent leadership team reaffirms these values to inspire and energize their fellow health care professionals. Everyone who cares for COVID-19 patients, from volunteers to those in emergency services, from intensive care unit staff to first responders, should be acknowledged and commended for their efforts to foster workplace values centered on the needs of patients and family members.

All workers’ well-being is dependent on the leaders’ ability to maintain a positive work environment. According to David Pendleton, chairman, and Jennifer King, managing director of Edgecumbe Consulting Group, saving lives in a crisis is the hallmark of medical practice and professionalism, regardless of specialty or degree. For example, you may offer a hotel for doctors and nurses who need to recuperate after night shifts, and meals for staff and workers. These measures received favorable comments when put in place, as confirmed by external inspectors.

In some instances, the coronavirus pandemic presented itself as an opportunity for the skills of junior healthcare professionals to be recognized—individuals who seized the opportunity to fix serious problems. When a situation calls for it, specific issues need to be given to the clinical staff member who can best deal with them, regardless of the healthcare organization’s hierarchy level.

For medical accuracy, continuity of treatment, and the long-term well-being of nurses and other health care workers, they must be healthy.

There was an upsurge in worker tiredness during the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, stress reduction and protecting staff’s physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being should increasingly be top priorities for senior executives. Hospitals have reported staffing challenges because of escalating turnover and competition for validation as medical experts.

Nurse recruitment is declining, which might lead to staffing shortages in hospitals. Healthcare workers spend more time doing more work because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The staff may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of going through great trauma and stress.

Studies have shown that well-trained nurse leaders may help minimize burnout by fostering positive work environments. A patient’s satisfaction is twice as high when they get care from a nurse who is not burnt out. An emerging body of data shows that engaged nurses are less likely to quit the sector (turnover costs health systems between $22,000 and $64,000 for each new worker). Strong leadership is needed to create a positive work environment that encourages employees to be engaged, to feel satisfied with their jobs, and to achieve their goals.

According to studies, nurses’ safety and performance may be improved through constructive leadership that fosters a culture of policy compliance and safety considerations. Nurse leaders who are up to date on the latest evidence-based research in nursing care and public health concerns may help their team make better care decisions. As a result, nurses are less fearful of failing and more confident in their abilities.

Recent research has associated the patient-to-nurse ratio with increased nurse burnout even among nurses who receive better income. A skilled nurse leader may reduce the shift length and the nurse-to-patient ratio by hiring more nurses. If that doesn’t work, they might rely on numbers to persuade managers to recruit additional employees.

Even as the current crisis appears to be dissipating, it is predicted that shortages of health workers and increased rural hospital closures will persist. Because of the COVID-19 experience, many nurses and doctors anticipate retiring early or exploring different employment situations. Physician shortages existed before COVID-19, but experts expect they will worsen after the pandemic, further taxing an already overburdened profession.

There is an urgent need for hospital leaders to learn from the mistakes and breakthroughs of the pandemic response over the last two years, to bolster leadership principles and create a more stealthy and fortified healthcare system. Hospital leaders have been faced with countless dilemmas and tragedies during the past two years of the pandemic. Nevertheless, one reality about the healthcare system has emerged. With proper, compassionate acknowledgment, leaders must recognize that the well-being of their workers means the well-being of all. 

Healing Breaths works with:

  • Healthcare Professionals – To strengthen self-compassion and build resilience through immersive experiences while earning up to 10 CE credits.
  • Healthcare Institutions – To address burnout issues, promote a culture of well-being, and build peer-to-peer connection while providing data-driven pre-post intervention measurement for efficacy.
  • Healthcare Partners such as Associations and Insurance Companies – To help promote mental health and well-being of clinicians. 

And the results have been compelling, showing statistically significant reductions in stress hormones (serum cortisol) and clinical anxiety and statistically significant increases in deep sleep, immune cell count, and overall life-satisfaction.

Working with Healing Breaths means less burnout for healthcare professionals, less turnover for institutions, and better patient outcomes.

To learn more about how Healing Breaths can help reduce burnout in your place of work, click here, or contact 628.280.6527 or