WBZ-TV's Paula Ebben spoke with The Schwartz Center CEO Matt Herndon
- It's time now for our segment 4 Your Community. Here's WBZ's Paula Ebben.
PAULA EBBEN: Matt Herndon, CEO of Schwartz, tell us just a little bit about the background of your organization and how you came to be.
MATT HERNDON: Yeah, the Schwartz Center was founded approximately 25 years ago by an area health care attorney by the name of Ken Schwartz. And Ken was faced with a very grim diagnosis as a young attorney, father to a small child. And he came to appreciate just the importance of the human connection between caregivers and patients through his journey as a patient and decided that there needed to be a focus on compassion in health care moving forward.
And that's really how we started. And we've really grown in a lot of ways since then.
PAULA EBBEN: So you've provided a lot of emotional support for health care providers over the years.
MATT HERNDON: That's exactly right, Paula. We really support the mental health and well-being of health care workers, caregivers so that they're better able to show up for themselves, their teams, and ultimately for all of us as patients. If you show up with your tank empty, your ability to really provide the care that we all want as patients is not going to be there. And so through our programs, we really enable health care workers and caregivers to show up.
PAULA EBBEN: Obviously, for the last year, we have dealt with a health crisis like never before in the history of the world. And so you quickly had to commit to helping health care workers with these sessions that you do. But of course, they couldn't physically be together.
MATT HERNDON: Yeah, that's right. Our core program is known as the Schwartz Rounds. And it brings people together in group sessions to talk confidentially about, really, the emotional impact of caring for patients. How do you fundamentally deal with a very sick patient and come back to work the next day, having experienced what you did?
So we did have to pivot. And we established virtual Schwartz Rounds. These were conducted via Zoom and other mechanisms. And what's great is we actually increased engagement and participation, which I think, one, spoke just to the incredible need that health care workers have had during this time. And two, it's just fundamentally easier for them to come together from their computers, from their desktops.
PAULA EBBEN: We found that in so many areas of life, right? In some ways, virtual meeting became easier and more inclusive in a lot of ways. The COVID-19 crisis, particularly last March, April, May, was so significant and overwhelming for our health care workers on the front lines in hospitals, ICUs. What were you hearing from them at sort of the height of the crisis?
MATT HERNDON: Yeah. I think we've all heard a number of these stories since COVID. But just really incredibly powerful, moving stories of the challenges of standing in as family members in some instances, being that last person there, unfortunately, in the case of some patients who didn't make it, and just incredible sense of pain and anxiety, not only in terms of dealing with patients but concerns about bringing COVID home to their family members, to their loved ones, and just how to really juggle those emotions.
And so our programs attempted to help caregivers navigate those emotions. We actually set up a resource site visited by over 23,000 caregivers to really just give them basic tools and resources to get through this time. It was one of the ways we contributed. But really profound experiences.
PAULA EBBEN: What do you want people to know who might watch this about what health care workers have been through this last year and how significant this event was on their mental health?
MATT HERNDON: Yeah, that health care workers, like all of us, have had to endure a lot. In some cases, they've dealt with some very intense situations. And that we all have an investment to make in health care. And so by supporting health care workers and their mental health and well-being, we're really supporting the health of the health care system overall and our health, ultimately, as patients because we're all patients at one time or another in our life.
PAULA EBBEN: Well, Matt Herndon, CEO of the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Care, thanks so much for sharing all this information with us. And we certainly hope for the best for our health care workers as they deal through the next year.
MATT HERNDON: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.