A recent survey found that 90 percent of U.S. nurses are considering leaving the field by the end of 2022, an alarming statistic for any hospital administration official. It is critical for employees to be engaged in their hospital positions to ensure patients are well cared for, and that starts with a structured system to check in on staff well-being and offer support. A new innovative program from one hospital system was so successful for nurses and employees, it is now being expanded to include physicians.
CHRISTUS Health, a Catholic not-for-profit health care ministry made up of more than 600 medical centers, partnered with Stericycle Communication Solutions to develop an innovative use of healthcare call center services to meet the needs of a hospital workforce coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Associate Wellbeing Check-in Program, designed to confidentially gauge the needs of associates who may be experiencing significant stress, safety concerns, or burnout, utilizes Stericycle call center staff to offer thanks, provide emotional support, and endorse the internal resources available to its associates.
"Stericycle gave us that personal touch. They have a team of clinically trained nurses who are able to ask a series of questions to determine how our associates are doing, what was their well-being is looking like, what is bringing them strength, what is was difficult for them. And maybe they just want to talk to somebody because they don’t have those two minutes to themselves."
— George Avila, system vice president of mission integration, CHRISTUS Health
As the clinical outbound calling provider for CHRISTUS Health’s patient visitation follow-ups, Stericycle was a natural partner to meet the challenge of proactively reaching out to hospital staff to offer counseling and support, address compassion fatigue, and remind them to take advantage of the CHRISTUS Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a confidential free counseling service that includes in-person visits and 24/7 telephone counseling. The initial employee engagement campaign served associates in Texas and Louisiana and included more than 2,000 calls, 400 conversations, and 100 inbound calls to the call center.
Owing to the positive impact of the healthcare call center program, CHRISTUS received the 2022 Medigy HITMC Provider Employee Engagement Campaign Award, which annually recognizes the best employee engagement campaign based on results achieved, creativity, and innovation.
Due to the program’s success, CHRISTUS will expanded it to its more than 60,000 physicians and associates across the country.
Checking in on nurses
Recent data illustrate the current nursing crisis and validate the importance of employee engagement programs to help foster employee morale, loyalty, and retention. A versatile call center is a way to easily increase engagement with key staff.
The American Association of Critical Care survey found that 92 percent of nurses indicated the pandemic has caused an acute shortage in the profession, and 66 percent are considering a new career path due to pandemic stress.
U.S. News and World Report stated that “the nation will need an additional 1.2 million nurses by next year” to make up for those leaving the profession.
Reuters reported nursing shortages are having a dramatic impact globally, including this alarming mortality estimate – “At least 115,000 nurses have died from COVID-19, but … the true figure is probably twice that.”
CHRISTUS continues to track associate satisfaction through employee engagement surveys that include questions on resiliency and sense of belonging. This information, along with complementary data collected by Stericycle, is helping CHRISTUS create a job satisfaction index of its healthcare workforce.