Hip Hip Hooray! NYC Health + Hospitals Honored As 2024 Wellbeing First Champion

July 8, 2024

NYC Health + Hospitals today announced it was recognized as a 2024 WellBeing First Champion for its efforts to remove invasive mental health questions on physician credentialing applications.

The award was given by ALL IN: WellBeing First for Healthcare, a coalition of major healthcare organizations led by The Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Thrive Global, and the CAA Foundation.

NYC Health + Hospitals is one of 19 health systems nationwide recognized by the coalition. According to a 2023 survey by the Physicians Foundation, 4 in 10 physicians were either afraid or knew another physician fearful of seeking mental health care given questions asked in applications for medical licensure, credentialing, or insurance.

“When doctors feel like they have to choose between providing care for others and seeking it for themselves, we exacerbate our health care crisis and deny New Yorkers the help they deserve. That is why NYC Health + Hospitals has been a national leader in removing invasive mental health questions from physician credential applications and ending the dangerous stigma around this issue,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “Congratulations to NYC Health + Hospitals for this well-deserved honor, and thank you to all our health care providers for your work every single day to deliver a safer, healthier New York City.”

“Our staff is at the core of the work that we do at NYC Health + Hospitals,” said NYC Health + Hospitals Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Machelle Allen, MD. “We are very proud of our efforts to eliminate invasive credentialing questions and prioritizing the mental health of our front-line staff. We would like to thank the ALL IN: WellBeing First for Healthcare coalition for recognizing our work in this area.”

“Over the last few years, NYC Health + Hospitals has invested in the mental health of our workforce, from the Helping Healers Heal program to the 20 newly opened wellness rooms where our staff can decompress during the workday,” said NYC Health + Hospitals Senior Vice President and Chief Quality Officer Eric Wei, MD, MBA. “Changing our credentialing questions is another way to show current and future staff our health system wants everyone, including our workforce, to seek mental health and wellness support whenever they need it.”

As an example, a reference form for a clinician applying to work at NYC Health + Hospitals used to include the following question about the applicant’s health status:

Have you observed or been informed of any chemical dependency, physical or mental health problems which might affect the applicant’s ability to perform in a competent manner?

Last year, NYC Health + Hospitals replaced this question with the following:

Have you observed any health problems which might affect the applicant’s ability to perform in a competent manner?

If “Yes” is selected, the information is communicated confidentially to Occupational Health Services to ensure the medical staff applicant is provided the appropriate support needed to be successful in his or her role.

This work is part of the health system’s commitment to the mental health and wellness of its frontline staff. In March, NYC Health + Hospitals announced a partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to implement the Interactive Screening Program, an online self-screening tool for staff to connect to peer and clinical support before a potential crisis emerges. In addition, NYC Health + Hospitals’ Helping Healers Heal program offers emotional first aid to health care providers who are suffering from workplace stress or anxiety and may be at high risk of depression caused by the demanding circumstances of the job and unexpected patient outcomes.

NYC Health + Hospitals

NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest public health care system in the nation serving more than a million New Yorkers annually in more than 70 patient care locations across the city’s five boroughs. A robust network of outpatient, neighborhood-based primary and specialty care centers anchors care coordination with the system’s trauma centers, nursing homes, post-acute care centers, home care agency, and MetroPlus health plan—all supported by 11 essential hospitals. Its diverse workforce of more than 43,000 employees is uniquely focused on empowering New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible. For more information, visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org and stay connected on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn.

About ALL IN: WellBeing First for Healthcare

ALL IN: WellBeing First for Healthcare, led by The Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Thrive Global, and CAA Foundation, is a coalition of leading healthcare organizations, including American Association of Colleges of Nurses, American College of Emergency Physicians, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, The Physicians Foundation, CHARM: The Collaborative for Healing and Renewal in Medicine, Johnson & Johnson: Center for Health Worker Innovation, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, American Nurse Foundation, Medicine Forward, National Black Nurses Association, Philippine Nurses Association of America and Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare. We are committed to advancing a state where the healthcare workforce’s well-being is prioritized, and individual health workers feel valued and supported so they can sustain their sense of purpose and meaning in their work. We work to make beneficial progress against persistent mental health and well-being challenges that disadvantage our health workers, and therefore, our healthcare systems and the future of public health.

Photo credit: Harlem Hospital.

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