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NYC Health + Hospitals earns 2024 WellBeing First Champion title

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In a significant move to destigmatize mental health care among physicians, NYC Health + Hospitals has been honored as a 2024 WellBeing First Champion.

This recognition by ALL IN: WellBeing First for Healthcare—a coalition of major healthcare organizations including The Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Thrive Global, and the CAA Foundation—marks a milestone in the health system’s efforts to support its medical staff by eliminating invasive mental health questions from credentialing applications.

A 2023 survey by the Physicians Foundation revealed alarming statistics: 4 in 10 physicians were either afraid or knew another physician fearful of seeking mental health care due to the probing questions asked during medical licensure, credentialing, or insurance applications. NYC Health + Hospitals’ initiative to revise these questions aims to remove the barriers that discourage physicians from seeking the mental health support they need.

“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.”

A previous reference form for clinicians required applicants to respond to the following question regarding health status:

Old Question: 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?

This question has now been replaced with a more sensitive and supportive inquiry:
New Question: 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 receives the appropriate support needed to be successful in their role.

Additional Mental Health Initiatives:
This work is part of a broader commitment to the mental health and wellness of NYC Health + Hospitals’ frontline staff. In March, the health system partnered 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. The Helping Healers Heal program also offers emotional first aid to health care providers suffering from workplace stress or anxiety.

About NYC Health + Hospitals

NYC Health + Hospitals is the nation’s largest public health care system, serving over a million New Yorkers annually across more than 70 patient care locations. Its diverse workforce of over 43,000 employees is dedicated to empowering New Yorkers to live the healthiest lives possible.

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