It’s hard to believe almost two full years have passed since the first U.S. patient with COVID-19 was admitted to a Providence hospital. In many ways, this second year has been more grueling than the first. Thank you to everyone at Providence for continuing to step up and serve our communities when they’ve needed us most.
Our caregivers have brought hope, healing and love to thousands of people in need, especially those at their most vulnerable. And we continue to advance important innovations that are making health care better, more affordable and easier to access for all.
Despite the exhaustion and heartache of the past year, we have many reasons to be grateful. In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, let’s take stock of all we’ve accomplished this year thanks to our caregivers. Here are a few highlights from 2021 that ought to make us all proud.
- We’ve cared for more than 436,000 COVID-19 patients in our hospitals, and many more in our clinics, ambulatory centers, congregate settings and in the home and virtual settings. Among those were this father of three who spent 299 days in the hospital with us in Portland, and this couple who wed in the ICU with help from our caregivers and chaplains in Medford, Oregon.
- Stories of Providence caregivers in action were highlighted nationally during the most recent surge, including this New York Times look at our ECMO program in Santa Monica, Calif., this PBS News Hour special on our front lines in Spokane, Wash., and this Wall Street Journal story about our response in Anchorage.
- Getting our communities vaccinated against COVID-19 is a critical step toward ending the pandemic. In our five states with vaccine mandates, 99 percent of caregivers complied by either receiving their vaccinations, or a medical or religious exemption. And through our support of mass vaccination clinics, we helped immunize hundreds of thousands of individuals in our communities.
- As part of a $220 million investment in our workforce, Providence is providing $1,000 recognition bonuses for caregivers, accelerating recruitment to fill 17,000 open positions and offering caregiver referral bonuses between $1,000 and $7,500. In addition, we’re aligning annual tuition reimbursement for eligible full-time caregivers to $5,250 in all regions, an increase for many areas. Watch for the second installment of the recognition bonus in your first December paycheck.
- Prioritizing caregiver mental health and well-being has been even more critical with stress, burnout and compassion fatigue exacerbated by the prolonged pandemic. Providence launched two programs – No One Cares Alone and My Mental Health Matters – to check in with every caregiver, quickly and confidentially to identify anyone in crisis and connect them to resources.
- Through an investment in health equity of $50 million over five years, we have pledged to reduce health disparities among our diverse communities. Over the last 18 months, our progress has included serving 518,388 individuals, collaborating with 876 partner organizations, hosting 580 testing and vaccination events, providing 159,969 COVID kits and connecting 92,654 people to care
- Our clinicians continued to lead cutting-edge research. This includes a JAMA study that showed heart inflammation from the COVID-19 vaccine to be rare and short lived and another study showing the effects of deferred care on mortality. Complementing our genomics program, Providence was also first to work with GRAIL to offer its multi-cancer blood test, which can detect 50 types of cancer with one blood draw.
- With data insights essential for quickly understanding new viruses and other diseases, Providence has led a coalition of major health care providers, with the goal of bringing our deidentified data together onto one secure platform. Through our new data consortium, Truveta, we are building the safeguards to ensure that data is used for the common good with privacy and security paramount.
- This year marks the fifth anniversary of Providence and St. Joseph Health coming together, as well as our establishment of Well Being Trust, a national foundation focused on mental health and well-being. With drug overdose and suicide on the rise, Well Being Trust has been at the forefront, urgently working with caregivers across Providence to save 100,000 lives from deaths of despair.
- Climate change is a public health emergency given the effects of extreme weather and pollution on the health of our communities. With health systems contributing 8.5% of all U.S. greenhouse gases, Providence has pledged to go carbon negative by 2030. We were invited to share our work at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow and Race for our Planet in Rome.
These are just a few examples of how the Providence family of organizations has made a difference in 2021, and none of it would have been possible without our amazing caregivers. It has been an exhausting year, and as we enter the holiday season, I hope everyone can find time to rest and recharge. Wishing you and your loved ones a happy Thanksgiving.