La Crosse health systems offering support for workers during pandemic

Stress can be overwhelming for healthcare workers; officials say it's important to ask for help
Healthcare workers' mental health
La Crosse health systems are providing support to workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting everyone in some way. The crisis is not only a problem for people’s physical health, but it can also affect mental health. Healthcare workers are at risk for both factors when they go to work every day.

Health care workers wake up and drive themselves into danger in order to bring patients out of harm’s way. However, the COVID-19 crisis is weighing just as heavily on these workers’ minds.

“Our mental health is just as important as our physical health,” said Jessica Boland, a wellness education specialist for Gundersen Health System.

Stress can be a problem for these people.

“I think it’s important for staff to support each other,” said Dr. Margaret Grenisen of Mayo Clinic Health System. “I think it’s also important for staff to ask for help when they need it.”

Gundersen and Mayo in La Crosse are shining a light on their resources designed to calm the fears of their workers.

“No matter the time of day there is always someone available to talk with them,” Boland said.

Gundersen Health System has several resources at their disposal to help people handle this climate. Wellness staff is available over the phone. Gundersen also has spiritual care staff, wellness coaching, and community resources like Great Rivers 211.

Mayo Clinic Health System also has a variety of resources.

“We have our behavioral health that does a great job of supporting our staff,” Grenisen said.

Mayo has options ranging from online self-help tools to physical stress relievers such as yoga. La Crosse is not experiencing a surge in cases like other parts of the country, but the economy has taken a hit.

“People might be experiencing higher stress levels, routines might be not the same as they were before,” Boland said.

Some health care workers have lost their jobs.

“They don’t know when they are going to come back,” Grenisen said. “Maybe their spouse is out. They are at home with kids trying to home school them and all the stresses that come with that.”

Grenisen said, “Sometimes doctors and nurses are their own worst enemies.”

“They think they have to keep going and going and going, and it takes a personal toll,” she said.

She said she wants these people to understand asking for help is not weakness.

“You don’t have to go this alone,” she said. “There’s help out there.”