UConn Health providing services and support to medical staff during pandemic

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A photo of the UConn Health building in Farmington, CT. The UConn Health campus in Farmington offers assistance to frontline workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.   UConn Health

A photo of the UConn Health building in Farmington, CT. The UConn Health campus in Farmington offers assistance to frontline workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. UConn Health

The University of Connecticut Health campus in Farmington is currently offering assistance to frontline workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic at John Dempsey Hospital, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Walker. 

The community has also rallied around UConn Health, with businesses like Naples Pizza in Farmington donating meals to frontline workers frequently for the last several weeks. On April 15, the UConn fire and police departments came together with other area first responders to host a “Thank You” parade on the Farmington campus for frontline workers, according to UConn Today.

The administration at the hospital recently launched the Taking Care of Our Own program, which is a joint effort between the Mood and Anxiety Clinic and the Department of Psychiatry. Any frontline worker who is feeling overwhelmed and wants to talk to someone can set up an appointment within 24-48 hours of reaching out.

“Our clinicians can provide short term psychological (and if necessary pharmacological) care to help you be highly effective in managing the unavoidable stress and to address any emotional difficulties you are dealing with, personally and professionally,” the website for the effort reads.

Walker said one of the main priorities for the senior leadership at UConn Health, including CEO Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, is to ensure the essential employees have the resources they need to do their jobs correctly and stay mentally and physically healthy. 

“These healthcare providers are seeing things that we don’t necessarily see on a daily basis. They’re dealing with very sick patients and a lot of death,” Walker said. “Being able to make sure that they have someone to talk to is important.”

Walker added every week day at 12:15 p.m., a meditation session is hosted for about 15 minutes via WebEx and any employee can join if they feel the need to debrief and relax. UConn Health is also not charging workers who keep children in their daycare center during this time. 

A popup market has also been set up in the hospital’s food court to give employees an accessible way to shop for their essentials given the demands of their schedules while fighting the pandemic. The market will also soon be offering family-sized, prepared meals for employees to take home.

“That [effort] is to help staff members who just do not have time to get to the grocery store,” Walker said. “So they have some staples like toilet paper, oatmeal and milk so that those employees that are working long hours can pick those up.” 

UConn Health also has a dedicated Wellness Center, which is open 24 hours a day and is accessible to any employee who needs to decompress, have a snack or take a shower before they return home or to the job. Certain employees, including those from far away who have come to help the effort, also have the ability to stay at a hotel in the surrounding area if members of their household are immunocompromised or at otherwise high risk. 

“We are making sure they are supplied with food and those types of things so that they do not have to worry about potentially bringing the virus home to their families,” Walker said. 

Dr. Agwunobi also holds weekly teleconferences with employees and students so that senior leadership can answer any questions and keep everyone up to date on the hospital’s efforts in fighting COVID-19.

“He [Dr. Agwunobi] is super transparent in trying to make sure that everybody knows what we are doing in trying our best to get through this pandemic. It is new to all of us,” Walker said. 

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Taylor Harton is the associate news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at taylor.harton@uconn.edu.

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