Supporting Our Staff Through COVID-19
May 06, 2020 Cedars-Sinai Staff
As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, healthcare workers were proud to be on the front lines caring for patients with the disease. At the same time, many were worried they might bring the virus home to their families.
To help alleviate these concerns, Cedars-Sinai recently launched a program that is offering free hotel stays for nurses, respiratory therapists, doctors and other employees concerned about transmitting the virus to their loved ones at home.
"To take care of every patient, no matter what their conditions are, that's what we're here for, and that's our duty."
Nurse Lisa Coneybeare, who lives with her husband and four children, recently took advantage of the program. Staying at a hotel has been an enormous stress-reducer, she says.
"I'm working with COVID-19 patients every single day, and the thing that I worry most about is that I'm going to take it home to my family," says Lisa. "So, the fact that I can go from work to a hotel room and shower there, and that I'm not sleeping in the same bed with my husband and rolling over and infecting him, relieves a huge anxiety. Having this place to escape to is a really, really big deal."
A new benefit for employees
The new program was born out of a desire to relieve those kinds of anxieties and to provide a refuge for employees who have tested positive for the virus and need to be quarantined, says Joan August, vice president of Cedars-Sinai Cancer and one of the executives overseeing the initiative.
"We've gotten phenomenal feedback from our employees about this," says Joan.
So far, about 300 employees have taken advantage of this benefit and have been staying at hotels near the medical center.
One of the employees using the hotel program is Dr. Soheil Soleymani, a nocturnist and internist who lives with his elderly parents—including his father, who has a preexisting condition.
"I wouldn't forgive myself if that happens to my father and if I'm the agent of the infection," he says.
Cedars-Sinai employees are using their hotel stays in various ways. Some are staying a few days, while others like Dr. Soleymani are staying for up to a month.
Being with family during the pandemic
When employees go home, they are still trying to maintain separation from their families.
"I am normally super huggy with my kids," says nurse Lisa. "I'm constantly hugging and kissing, and now I'm not doing any of that. We're trying to keep a 6-foot distance. It's a little difficult, but I'm trying to treat myself as if I'm positive."
Although the fear of infecting family is pervasive, many say it hasn't diminished their commitment to helping patients.
"To take care of every patient, no matter what their conditions are, that's what we're here for, and that's our duty," Dr. Soleymani says.