Frontline health workers are integral to the global response to COVID-19. In hospitals, clinics and homes around the world, health workers are taking on significant personal risk and too often working without adequate equipment to ensure all of us can receive the care we need. The current crisis is demonstrating the essential, tireless, innovative and too-often undervalued role of health workers in ensuring strong, resilient health systems for everyone, everywhere.
The mental and physical toll this crisis is having on our frontline health workers is rapidly becoming an epidemic in itself. Every new COVID-19 diagnosis means longer hours, less sleep and sporadic meals which leads to weakened immune systems.
These health professionals are more than our first responders, they will be our guides and community allies on the road to recovery once the epidemic ends. They’re taking care of us; now we must take care of them.
That’s why the Johnson & Johnson Center for Health Worker Innovation is joining #FirstRespondersFirst, an initiative created to support and sustain the health and well-being of frontline workers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. As a long-time advocate and expert, Johnson & Johnson has the responsibility and resolve to deliver on this next chapter in mental health and well-being. We believe a critical way to realize this goal is to engage the employers and organizations that depend upon frontline health workers directly. Conceived by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Thrive Global, the behavior change technology company founded by Arianna Huffington, and the CAA Foundation, #FirstRespondersFirst will provide support for this workforce by engaging those who employ those on the front lines, ranging from minimum-wage hourly workers in home-care settings to social workers, nurses, physicians, and beyond. The Center’s efforts connect directly to those who employ this workforce.
Well-being and resilience is one of five priority frontline health worker needs identified by the Johnson & Johnson Center for Health Worker Innovation, launched in September with a 10-year $250 million commitment from the Johnson & Johnson Foundation and the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies. In the face of this pandemic, the Center is applying the company’s expertise, resources and voice to scale solutions with the potential to make the greatest impact. In this partnership, the Center for Health Worker Innovation will:
- Co-create content, tools and resources designed to improve the resilience and well-being needs of FLHWs and their leaders in times of crisis, recovery and rebuilding.
- Distribute content, tools and resources through J&J’s broad global network of partners, customers and more.
- Leverage the expertise of our Health & Wellness Solutions Behavioral Science team to guide evidence-based resilience solutions and ensure clear evaluation design, analysis and iteration to inform continual assessment and improvement.
Even in normal times, frontline healthcare workers worldwide face vast challenges when it comes to prioritizing their own health; that strain is greatly compounded amidst a public health crisis. Already in response to COVID-19, thousands of healthcare workers are falling ill. In China, nearly 3,400 healthcare workers have been infected, and 22 have died—not just from the virus itself, but from cardiac arrest and other conditions caused by overwork and exhaustion. In Italy, at least 2,629 health workers have gotten sick—8.3 percent of total cases in that country. And here in the US, dozens of frontline workers have already been infected, with many others having to self-quarantine. The burdens — both physical and emotional — that healthcare workers face today are leading to the need for increased programs and services to support health care workers during the epidemic and for many months following the end of the pandemic. If these challenges the health care workers face are left unaddressed, the anticipated impact for both providers and patients will be substantial.
We are all-in to continue to advance the resilience and well-being of health professionals serving on the front lines of care. Now more than ever, we know that the well-being and professional endurance of our healthcare frontline is key to our collective future and join this effort as a compassionate and committed partner. Together, we believe this partnership will make strides to support systematic changes with and for frontline health workers to be whole, healthy and safe as they deliver for communities worldwide.
Follow along with our response efforts at @JNJGlobalHealth on Twitter and Instagram.