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Reverse Wellness Rounding: Looking After The Mental Health Needs Of Medical Professionals During The Coronavirus Pandemic

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Day in and day out, health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic are often putting themselves and their families at risk – while they put their own needs and emotions aside.

Now, Rush University Medical Center is using a team of psychiatrists and social workers to check in on those working so hard to save lives.

Dr. Bryant Adibe, chief wellness officer at Rush, joined CBS 2's Brad Edwards and Irika Sargent on Monday to talk about reverse wellness rounding and what it entails.

"Wellness rounds is a really simple concept. You know, in a traditional clinical environment, we would round some of our patients," Adibe said. "What we did was we brought together an interdisciplinary team to round our frontline staff because we recognize that during these special circumstances, it's so important to insure that we're checking in on folks who are on the front line, and ensuring that their health and wellbeing is also a priority."

Medical staff have many of the same concerns that everyone else has during the pandemic, Adibe explained.

"Staff are people too, and I think they have some of the concerns that many in the community otherwise would have. You know, there's concerns from folks about making sure that they were families are safe, you know, and when they leave here; concerns about their own wellbeing and safety, and those are things that we're able to address and to provide answers to, and really, we've found that that is one of the most important steps to relieve any anxiety, allowing them to do the great work that they do every day," he said.

A wellness resource center for medical personnel is in place at a central location from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Psychologists, social workers, and a whole wellness response team.

"If we find someone truly in need, we escalate them through what we call Wellness Plus, where we're able to speak with this individual privately and kind of remove them from the clinical environment, do a formal assessment, and make sure that they get the help that they need," Adibe said. "But by putting some careful thought into this, we're able to really create a responsive system that's going to help our community, and allow, as I mentioned, these great heroes to do the tremendous work that they're doing on behalf of our community every day."

Edwards asked Adibe if there was a cumulative effect on health care professionals that just keeps on building regardless of whether the situation seems to be improving in terms of flattening the curve.

Adibe said that is part of why the wellness rounds are under way.

"Our goal is really to spread a message of hope and optimism, and to your point, I think part of what we did early on was to prepare for what I think of as the reverse surge, which is really the psychological impact of this entire pandemic, That's why we're making sure that we're providing resources to the front line, so that down the line from now, our teams are still healthy, are still well, and are in the right state of mind to continue this great work," Adibe said.

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