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      Attending to the Emotional Well-Being of the Health Care Workforce in a New York City Health System During the COVID-19 Pandemic


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          The COVID-19 pandemic has placed an enormous strain on health care workers, and its potential impact has implications for the physical and emotional well-being of the work force. As hospital systems run far over capacity, facing possible shortages of critical care medical resources and personal protective equipment as well as clinician deaths, the psychological stressors necessitate a strong well-being support model for staff. At the Mount Sinai Health System (MSHS) in New York City, health care workers have been heroically providing frontline care to COVID-19 patients while facing their own appropriate fears for their personal safety in the setting of contagion. This moral obligation cannot be burdened by unacceptable risks; the health system’s full support is required to address the needs of its workforce.

          In this Invited Commentary, the authors describe how an MSHS Employee, Faculty, and Trainee Crisis Support Task Force—created in early March 2020 and composed of behavioral health, human resources, and well-being leaders from across the health system—used a rapid needs assessment model to capture the concerns of the workforce related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The task force identified 3 priority areas central to promoting and maintaining the well-being of the entire MSHS workforce during the pandemic: meeting basic daily needs; enhancing communications for delivery of current, reliable, and reassuring messages; and developing robust psychosocial and mental health support options. Using a work group strategy, the task force operationalized the rollout of support initiatives for each priority area. Attending to the emotional well-being of health care workers has emerged as a central element in the MSHS COVID-19 response, which continues to be committed to the physical and emotional needs of a workforce that courageously faces this crisis.

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          Psychological Predictors of Health Anxiety in Response to the Zika Virus

          The threat of a United States (U.S.) Zika virus pandemic during 2015–2016 was associated with public anxiety. Such threats represent opportunities to examine hypotheses about health anxiety. The present study investigated psychological predictors of Zika-related anxiety during the 2015–2016 outbreak. U.S. adults (N = 216) completed a battery of measures assessing Zika-related anxiety as well as psychological variables hypothesized to predict anxious responding to the threat of a domestic Zika outbreak. Contrary to hypotheses, regression analyses indicated that only contamination severity overestimates and greater Zika knowledge significantly predicted Zika-related anxiety. Study limitations and clinical implications are discussed.
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            Clinical review: Influenza pandemic – physicians and their obligations

            An influenza pandemic threatens to be the most lethal public health crisis to confront the world. Physicians will have critical roles in diagnosis, containment and treatment of influenza, and their commitment to treat despite increased personal risks is essential for a successful public health response. The obligations of the medical profession stem from the unique skills of its practitioners, who are able to provide more effective aid than the general public in a medical emergency. The free choice of profession and the societal contract from which doctors derive substantial benefits affirm this commitment. In hospitals, the duty will fall upon specialties that are most qualified to deal with an influenza pandemic, such as critical care, pulmonology, anesthesiology and emergency medicine. It is unrealistic to expect that this obligation to treat should be burdened with unlimited risks. Instead, risks should be minimized and justified against the effectiveness of interventions. Institutional and public cooperation in logistics, remuneration and psychological/legal support may help remove the barriers to the ability to treat. By stepping forward in duty during such a pandemic, physicians will be able to reaffirm the ethical center of the profession and lead the rest of the healthcare team in overcoming the medical crisis.
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              The power of moral purpose: Sandler O’Neill & Partners in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.


                Author and article information

                Acad Med
                Acad Med
                Academic Medicine
                Published for the Association of American Medical Colleges by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
                21 April 2020
                10 April 2020
                [1 ] J. Ripp is senior associate dean for well-being and resilience, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and chief wellness officer, Mount Sinai Health System, New York, New York.
                [2 ] L. Peccoralo is associate dean for faculty well-being and resilience, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Mount Sinai Health System, New York, New York.
                [3 ] D. Charney is Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and president for academic affairs, Mount Sinai Health System, New York, New York.
                Author notes
                Correspondence should be addressed to Jonathan Ripp, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, 1 Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1216, New York, NY 10029; telephone: (212) 241-4141; email: Jonathan.Ripp@ 123456mountsinai.org .
                Copyright © 2020 by the Association of American Medical Colleges

                This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic or until permissions are revoked in writing. Upon expiration of these permissions, PMC is granted a perpetual license to make this article available via PMC and Europe PMC, consistent with existing copyright protections.

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