New York's largest hospital system sets up mental health center for employees

NEW YORK, April 14 (Reuters) - New York's largest healthcare provider Northwell Health has opened a center to offer resilience and traumatic stress services to its 76,000 healthcare employees and their families impacted by COVID-19.

Three Northwell Health frontline health professionals shared their experience of working at the height of the pandemic at a news conference on Wednesday.

"It was so tough for us," said Carlos Rivera, 47, an environmental services worker at Cohen Children's Medical Center. "The hardest thing that anybody would have to endure."

Rivera's grandmother and father died from COVID-19 last April. Rivera and his wife also caught the disease.

"I wasn't able to go to any of the funeral services because that's just the way it was," Rivera said.

Rivera said he still gets emotional about the ongoing threat of infection.

"Because we're still dealing with this pandemic, I feel like a lot of times I go home scared. I don't want my children to get this. In particular, my older daughter has a lot of underlying issues, and so it's always on my mind," he said.

Elyse Isopo, a critical care nurse at North Shore University Hospital, said her parents caught COVID-19 early in the pandemic.

"I thought I was strong. I really did. Until, there were days that I would just spiral and I would just break down," she said.

A number of healthcare providers have committed suicide this year, highlighting the need for the center, said Dr. Frederick Davis, the associate chair for the emergency department at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.

Nearly 29% of U.S. essential workers like those in the healthcare and law enforcement sectors have said their mental health has worsened and 75% said they could have used more emotional support since the pandemic started, according to the American Psychological Association.

(Reporting by Roselle Chen and Hussein Al Waaile; Editing by Karishma Singh and Stephen Coates)

04/14/2021 23:34

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