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Nurturing a Healthy Front Line: How Cleveland Clinic is Caring for COVID-19 Health Care Workers

provided by Cleveland Clinic

Last month, we spoke to Dr. Wael Barsoum, President and CEO of Cleveland Clinic Florida. His message was clear: Slow the spread of COVID-19 so we don’t overwhelm our hospitals.

Now that appears our efforts may be working, we checked back in with him to see how things are going for our local caregivers.

WB: This whole process of taking care of Coronavirus patients and really gearing up over the course of the last month, has I think only further confirmed the fact that we really do have some of the most incredible health care workers in the world. So, we wanted to make sure that we were taking care of our caregivers who are taking care of patients.

They set up the COVID-19 Wellness Taskforce, which, among many good things, provides free housing for frontline workers worried about bringing the virus home to their families.

WB: So, they can stay in a hotel and we cover the cost of that.

And there’s more.

WB: Some of the things that we have put into place are…

A caregiver support team to help caregivers who have COVID-19. A 24-hour hotline with help and information for all caregivers. A caregiver hardship fund…

WB: for folks who are going through difficult times, if, you know, their partner or their spouse lost a job and they were having a hard time paying rent or…

They could apply for funds to pay bills. Or, if they have children at home but they still have to work…

WB: …we help with getting them connected with daycare groups.

Within the hospitals, they’ve set up Hero Stations with snacks.. and Relaxation Stations…

WB: …where you could come in and see a therapist who could actually give you a massage using an external tool so that you could still have the social distancing in place.

We wanted to get a closer look at what is happening on the Treasure Coast, so we spoke to:

GR: Hi, so, I’m Dr. Greg Rosencrance. I’m an internal medicine physician and president of Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital.

And Joanie Howell.

JH: My name is Joanie Howell.

Howell is an occupational therapist who usually works at the Tradition medical center. When the crisis hit, she moved up to Indian River to help schedule the labor pool.

JH: Correct.

We ask Dr. Rosencrance specifically about free housing support.

GR: We currently have 7 caregivers taking advantage of that program. I think it gives them peace of mind. They’re on the front lines. Here at Indian River specifically we’ve had a very low number of caregivers that have tested positive – 3% and they’re all doing well.

And what about PPE – Personal Protective Equipment to protect caregivers? Is there enough?

JH: I’ve never seen a shortage of PPE, personally.

GR: We have an ample current supply and feel pretty comfortable with where we are right now with PPE. We are still conserving it, yet following the CDC and WHO guidelines.

And they have loads of colorful cloth masks donated from the community.

JH: You’ll see all kind of colleagues that you know with these really unique masks that have been given to us by the community members. It just brings a little color to the facility because you see people with these cool masks. Like mine today actually has watermelons on it.

Now that it looks like we are flattening the curve, we ask Dr. Rosencrance for some advice going forward.

GR: We kind of jumped out of the airplane and we pulled the parachute with social distancing and we slowed down and it looks like we can come in with a good landing.. But now is not the time to take the parachute off. We need to remain vigilant. The current recommendation is still to stay home and stay safe and save lives. And I think that’s still very good advice.

Learn more about COVID-19 here: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/landing/preparing-for-coronavirus