Resilience Starts at Home with Providers Themselves

Dr. Safina Koreishi tackles provider burnout with new OHA innovation fellowship

Just as air travelers are advised to put on their own oxygen masks before assisting others, Dr. Safina Koreishi, medical director of the Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization, told healthcare professionals the importance of tending to their own needs and their teams’ needs when dealing with transformational change.

“Transition always means something is coming to an end,” said Koreishi, who recently was awarded an OHA Clinical Innovation Fellowship that aims to develop practitioner-led strategies for coping with burnout and building organizational resilience across her north coast CCO.

Koreishi said her “not-so-secret goal” is eventually to add CCO metrics around recruitment and retention of providers based on what she learns over the next year. “We’re all a bunch of humans. Organizations don’t change, people do.”

Her audience had no trouble naming distressing changes. OHA staffers mentioned their own organization’s cutbacks. Several mentioned dealing with a flawed healthcare system in their own doctor’s offices.

“We can’t totally fix health in the office if 99.99999 percent of health is outside the office,” reminded Koreishi, adding that healthcare transformation broadens the framework of wellness to include social determinants beyond what any individual can do to stay well.

Her own CCO serves a mostly rural area in Tillamook, Clatsop and Columbia counties and has benefited from community meetings with clinical, pharmaceutical, behavioral health and law enforcement to deal with appropriate use of controlled substances. Her CCO members also have among the state’s highest rates of tobacco use at 47 percent, and it has begun a discussion of adverse childhood experiences in the coastal communities’ schools.

Koreishi suggested that resilience is the ability to respond to stress with a minimum of psychological cost, which requires the self-monitoring, social support and institutional support of mindfulness -- a state of active, open attention to the present including appropriate modeling by an organization’s leaders.

“You can never over-communicate any change,” Koreishi said, emphasizing that a mission-driven workforce needs to know the “why” behind changes. “If employees are happy, that spills over.”

Jan can be reached at [email protected].

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