How COVID-19 Impacts Clinicians
How is the pandemic truly impacting health care workers? There’s a registry for that.
OF ALL THOSE AT RISK during the COVID-19 pandemic, none are in the crosshairs more than health care workers. Many spend hours every day in virus-heavy environments, with masks, gowns, gloves and disinfectant as their only protection. Their resistance is often lowered by exhaustion, anxiety and the grief of losing patient after patient.
As of June 25, 469 U.S. health care workers had died of COVID-19, which is almost certainly an undercount, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other tallies have put the toll at more like 600 so far. No one’s measured what the pandemic is costing health care works physically, emotionally and economically.
Not yet, anyway. But that’s the purpose of the HERO Registry, an initiative spearheaded by the Duke Clinical Research Institute at Duke University School of Medicine. “It’s been clear that one of the biggest issues out there is how to keep health care workers safe and informed, and give them a community where they can share their concerns,” says the institute’s executive director, cardiologist Adrian Hernandez, who jumped on the opportunity to propose the registry when the not-for-profit Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) approached Duke looking for high-impact COVID-related projects to fund.
HERO (which stands for Healthcare Worker Exposure Response & Outcomes) was launched in April to measure and track COVID-19’s effect on the U.S. health care workforce, which Hernandez estimates is 19 million strong. HERO has signed up almost 15,000 health care workers so far – predominantly nurses and doctors, though Hernandez and his fellow researchers eventually hope for participation in the six figures and reflecting the full range: emergency medical technicians, food service and housekeeping workers, home health aides and nursing home staff –everyone whose working lives are intimately intertwined with the pandemic. (If you’re a U.S. health care worker and 18 or older, you can join the registry here.)
“We want to form a HERO community across the front lines, to have a continuous pulse about what’s happening to them, and also to feed back information to help keep them safe,” Hernandez says.