Coronavirus: survey aims to identify supports for front-line hospital workers in southwestern Ontario

While the impact of the novel coronavirus has been widespread and touched almost every aspect of our lives, a team from Lawson Health Research Institute is hoping to learn more about its personal and professional impacts on front-line hospital workers specifically in southwestern Ontario.

Front-line hospital workers in the region are asked to participate in a brief online survey to share their perceptions, causes of stress, and coping strategies.

Lead investigator Dr. Kimia Honarmand, adjunct scientist and critical care physician at London Health Sciences Centre, says the goal is to identify strategies to better support them.

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“There may be some folks that are still not in a place where they want to share their experiences but we’ve had great interest so far. (We’ve had) lots of hospitals who were interested in participating in the region, we’ve had a lot of health care providers that’ve been responding to our web-based survey,” Honarmand told Global News.

“We’ve been fortunate that a lot of our colleagues have been open to sharing their experiences. I think part of that might be to facilitate or to inform us in terms of coming up with strategies to be able to help them going forward in this pandemic and future waves but also in any other future public health emergency.”

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Honarmand says she believes many anxieties are related to the uncertainty — not knowing whether to expect a surge in patients, or whether there will be enough personal protective equipment, medications, or ventilators.

“One of the main concerns I’ve heard from my ICU colleagues has been related to a sense of grief for patients that are passing away in the intensive care unit, or really anywhere in the hospital, in the context of visitor restrictions. The onus is on us to be with those patients to make sure their final moments are peaceful, being able to connect them with their families.”

The research team also suspects that social media may be playing “a role in compounding these fears.”

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“Compared with past outbreaks like SARS, today’s digital age provides a wealth of on-demand information and the majority is unverified. While social media can be a place of solidarity and connection, it can also contribute to the spread of misinformation and fear.”

Executive VP, chief nursing officer, and pandemic incident management team co-lead at LHSC Carol Young-Ritchie says the data will be used to help “guide hospital administrators and professional organizations in better supporting our people.”

The team anticipates “at least 346 survey respondents across various hospitals,” according to the survey page.

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