|Abstract:||This report identifies several challenges healthcare workers are facing in Illinois during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include the direct health risks to them and their families, as well as issues involving access to transportation, housing, childcare and other family needs.
Workers are caring for increasing numbers of critically ill and dying patients with depleted resources – resources that are needed both to treat patients and to protect workers from infection. At the same time, they also face emotional and mental health consequences including exhaustion, stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, suicidality, domestic violence and substance abuse.
The report highlights two case studies from the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System (UI Health) for strategies to support healthcare workers. In one, UI Health arranged housing and transportation for workers who live with people who are more vulnerable to the virus so these workers can avoid potentially exposing them. One participant, an intensive-care unit nurse, credited the program with protecting the life of her immunosuppressed husband.
Another case study looks at efforts to respond to psychological adversity and trauma, including instituting a hotline for employees struggling with things like financial, interpersonal or work-related problems.
The report says the pandemic will leave many healthcare facilities struggling financially, due to increased costs and revenue losses from the cancellation or postponement of other care. The Illinois Hospital Association estimates that hospitals could collectively lose up to $1.4 billion monthly. This report notes that those losses will fall the hardest on hospitals with higher percentages of patients who rely on Medicare or Medicaid, or are uninsured.