April 29, 2020 By Allie Griffin
The City is bringing in military experts to train New York City healthcare workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic to cope with “combat trauma,” Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray announced today.
Military trauma specialists will train more than 1,000 health personnel at the city’s public and private hospitals in combat stress management. The trained staff will then train even more personnel to provide mental health support for healthcare workers who witness deaths and devastation daily as the virus has overtaken New York City hospitals.
McCray will lead the effort in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense. The training will be a combination of webinars and in-person facility-based teachings.
“For weeks now all our frontline healthcare workers — who I think of as our soldiers of grace and mercy — have been pushed to the limit,” McCray said. “Inside our hospitals, we’ve had battlefield conditions with triage and fear in the hallways.”
She said the healthcare workers who provide urgent care struggle with their own mental health. She called the emotional state of workers “a crisis within a crisis.”
“When the emergency field hospitals and morgues close, after the tv crews leave and the clapping stops, our soldiers, our healers go home and we have to wonder how do these healers manage their stress after so much death and suffering,” she said.
McCray said the program is already underway and training is expected to be available by the end of the month.
The initiative follows two suicides in the New York healthcare system.
A young Bronx EMT, John Mondello, killed himself last week after less than three months on the job. And on Sunday, the medical director of the emergency department at a Manhattan hospital, Dr. Lorna Breen, took her own life.
McCray held a moment of silence for both Mondello and Breen.