At Texas Health, we enable our employees to practice the same safety and self-care strategies we encourage our consumers to adopt.
Health and Wellness
To help our employees make their health and well-being a priority, we designed an award-winning wellness program that reduces their health risk factors and allows them to take better care of mind, body and spirit. From health education to biometric screenings to weight management and smoking-cessation programs, we deploy many health and wellness interventions where they are needed most.
As a Blue Zone Approved Worksite™, we integrate purpose, movement, nutrition and other healthy behaviors to make it easier for employees to make good choices. These range from providing healthier food options in our cafeterias to installing walking trails and meditation gardens at our healthcare campuses.
Texas Health is grounded in the belief that integrating faith, spirituality and medicine can enhance treatment and healing. We welcome a diversity of religious faiths and ways that employees nurture their spirits. Our board-certified chaplains provide support, comfort and guidance to employees throughout the system. Each entity also has a chapel that provides a quiet place to pray, worship, meditate and simply breathe. Other sites have meditation gardens for reflection.
The organization's health and safety management system allows us to identify and control hazards and risks, comply with applicable laws and regulations, investigate incidents and track actions through closure. It also contains programs, non-retaliation policies and tools designed to protect employees and patients from injuries and workplace violence.
Texas Health deploys many strategies to reduce workplace hazards, from infection control processes to safely lifting patients to providing well-lit rooms and hallways. Some of these include:
- Delivering extensive training and communication that covers how to spot, resolve and report potential hazards and violence.
- Providing controls to reduce exposure to blood-borne and airborne pathogens, such as the use of needle-less IV systems, safety-engineered sharps and personal protective equipment.
- Appointing environment of care committees and threat management teams to monitor safety issues and develop action plans to address them.
- Conducting risk assessments with our workers' compensation insurance provider to evaluate everything from ergonomics to industrial hygiene practices.
- Requiring employees to report safety concerns, errors, injuries and near misses to an online tracking system to spot trends and unsafe work environments. We also analyze this data to determine injury frequency, cost and severity.
- Performing root cause analyses of safety events to inform systemwide decision-making and necessary corrective actions.
Workplace and patient violence have risen across the nation in recent years. To strengthen our violence prevention capabilities, we offer web-based and instructor-led training on de-escalation techniques.
Open AllClose All
Day after day, month after month, our care teams see patients suffering or dying from COVID-19, despite their best efforts. They've grown used to the meticulous donning and doffing of PPE, the hot face shields and serving as a family for patients who can't have visitors.
The stress at work is compounded at home, where they may have vulnerable family members, concerns about childcare and learning, and more. The price of that stress can be steep. Many employees have trouble concentrating or sleeping, their appetites change or they become more irritable. To help them cope, Texas Health launched a virtual Self-Care Check-in program. Conducted via video call, employees are connected to compassionate mental health providers who acknowledge and normalize their experience. Caregivers talk through how they're feeling, their challenges and the physical, emotional or behavioral reactions they're experiencing.
The care teams listen and offer positive coping strategies, such as listening to music, connecting with friends and family, pursuing a creative hobby and praying. They also help employees identify red flags to look for in themselves and others and share additional resources for support. The response to the 62 virtual sessions during the year has been positive, with more than 2,300 employees participating. Traditional counseling sessions also were offered virtually and 7.4% of employees took advantage of the support.
While at work, employees can take a break, decompress and relax in relaxation or tranquility rooms. Our chaplains also provide pastoral care to front-line caregivers by offering spiritual support and comfort, either one-on-one or at the start of each shift through prayer, blessings and counsel.
Caregiver Loses Eight Family Members to COVID-19
As a respiratory therapist, Ovidio Alanis helps COVID-19 patients fight for breathe and he grieves for those he has lost to the virus: Eight of his family members have died over three months.
When a patient doesn't make it, he said, "I see a family member of mine. It takes a toll every single time. It's a piece of you. But you just have to keep coming and help the people that still need the help."
In September, the bad news from home began with the first death. Then, "it was back-to-back, every other week," cousins, an aunt and others ranging in age from 30 to 53.
He said some of his family members who got sick didn't quite understand how serious COVID-19 is, and one didn't believe it was real. He can't help being angry when he hears that attitude or when he sees people in public not wearing masks.
"It's more difficult when it attacks you personally and attacks your family, and you see it right in front of you," he said. "If people think it will never happen to them — it can. I had a couple of family members say those exact same words. And they lost a wife or a child."
Pandemic Forces Hard Choices
Early on in the pandemic, many healthcare workers across the country made the difficult decision to temporarily separate from their families for fear of bringing COVID-19 home. They've missed birthdays, pregnancy milestones and more. Splitting apart has been a painful choice, usually made after thoughtful family discussions and research. Texas Health has not required or recommended that families separate. But some care team members have decided it was in the best interest of their families and themselves.
At Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest Fort Worth, Adrijana Raka, R.N., said she completely separated from her son and daughter for a couple of weeks when the pandemic started to take hold.
"It was the uncertainty of everything," Adrijana said. She works nights in the hospital's medical-surgical-telemetry unit, but sometimes serves as a monitor in the designated COVID-19 unit and was a screener at the ED door for a time. Her children, 8 and 7, stayed with her ex-husband.
"I saw patients who were intubated; that's what made me want to separate," she said. Adrijana also was training in the Emergency Department, where "you don't really know who has it. We're just cautious with everybody."