Ask St. Ann’s – Healthcare Workers Need Our Care, Too.

By Michelle Dwyer and Victoria Bournival

Healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 patients and protecting vulnerable seniors give their all to our community.

Caring for the mental health and overall well-being of these workers must be an employer’s top priority. Here are ways employers can support and encourage workers to seek help when they need it most.

Communicate clearly and often
Information and guidance about COVID-19 changes quickly, even in a day. Open communications channels ensure workers understand expectations and can ask questions to provide the best outcomes.

St. Ann’s Community updates its 1,200+ workforce through emails, phone calls, video chats, social media and blogs. Daily check-ins also ensure everyone is up to date with current in-house facts and changing regulations. Monthly, the CEO and leadership team greet employees at the start of each shift to check-in, distribute employee updates, provide healthy treats, and give thanks for their service.

Delivering top-notch care under pandemic conditions isn’t easy. Acknowledge when people go above and beyond the call of duty to boost morale and build community. Create a social media platform to encourage employees to share acts of kindness, accomplishments and stories. Offering a branded apparel item is also a great way to show appreciation.

Prioritize mental health
In a recent survey conducted by mental health provider Ginger, which was published in on April 20, 69% of employees said the coronavirus is the most stressful time of their career, and 88% said they had experienced moderate to extreme stress over the past four to six weeks.

To remove any stigma about asking for help, encourage self-care practices and make resources available.

Promote telemedicine visits to help employees access mental health counseling services at their convenience and in the privacy of their own homes. Consider offering pastoral care for soul support. The team at St. Ann’s Community disseminates daily affirmations and has an open-door policy for staff.

Collaborate with a success coach through the Employer Resource Network (ERN) in Rochester to help employees navigate systems and find solutions to many personal or professional issues. Coaches can assist with childcare needs, transportation, stress management, conflict on the job, finances and professional growth opportunities.

Overall well-being
Working in healthcare today leaves people with less time to tend to their home life. Take some items off their to-do lists to make their lives easier.

If possible, offer on-site COVID-19 testing so frontline employees can meet state testing mandates without additional time and travel. Connect those who test positive with support.

Supply healthy meals and snacks and sell at-cost grocery staples at the workplace to eliminate the need for employees to go to crowded stores and risk exposure. Implement a casual dress policy to encourage a more relaxed environment.

Train ancillary and non-clinical workers to serve as resident service technicians and nursing assistants to assist healthcare teams with patient care such as feeding, dressing, and toileting.

“We’re all in this together” only rings true for employees when employers follow up with compassionate, consistent actions that support the best outcomes for all. It’s the least we can do for those who give so much to others.

If you’re a healthcare worker looking for more information on ways to cope during the pandemic, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website (

 Michelle Dwyer is director of human resources for St. Ann’s Community. Contact her at [email protected] or 585-697-6395.

Victoria Bournival is employee experience and organizational development specialist for St. Ann’s Community. Contact her at 585-697-6510 or [email protected].

Learn more about St. Ann’s Community in Rochester at, or apply for jobs at

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