With an uptick of cases, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has launched a survey addressed at identifying acute stress and ensuring resources are available to support health professionals.
Arkansas has seen fewer cases of COVID-19 than other states, but officials there have remained vigilant in ensuring the health and well-being of physicians, other health professionals and patients across the state. As the state continues to see an uptick in cases, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is looking to address the needs of all health professionals through the launch of a survey to identify how those on the front lines of COVID-19 care are coping with this pandemic.
Partly due to a smaller, less dense and rural population, Arkansas has been protected against a significant increase in COVID-19 cases. With the late surge, it has allowed the state and the University of Arkansas to learn from the experiences of harder hit areas such as Europe, California, New York and other locations with a higher incidence of COVID-19.
“Right now, in our hospital we have six confirmed patients and we are waiting for results on nine other patients,” said Erick Messias, MD, associate dean for faculty affairs at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. “These are very low numbers overall compared to other places.”
However, even with these low numbers, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences closed operations for the month of April, which created a series of stressors on everyone.
“They have the stress of being at home. The state shut down the schools for the whole month of April, so people that have kids have to take care of their kids’ needs at home,” said Dr. Messias. “Then you had the people that had to stay here and do three hours of cases and they were afraid of contagions.”
That is why Dr. Messias distributed the AMA’s “Coping with COVID-19 for Caregivers” survey. This free, brief survey was designed to assess the impact of COVID-19 on clinical staff and was distributed April 7 with over 800 responses and sent for reassessment May 7.
“The way the survey helped us shape our strategies was to understand what people are afraid of and to prepare for that,” he said.
The AMA has two free surveys to help health care organizations monitor the impact COVID-19 has on their workforce during this pandemic. The surveys can be used to track trends in stress levels, identify specific drivers of stress, and develop supportive infrastructures based on these drivers. Organizations that use the surveys will receive free-of-charge support from the AMA in launching the surveys and access to data through an easy-to-use reporting dashboard.
Additionally, the AMA offers resources to help physicians manage their own mental health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic and provides practical strategies for health system leadership to consider in support of their physicians and care teams during COVID-19.