SYRACUSE, NY— U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24) called on Congressional Leaders to advance legislation to ensure frontline healthcare providers have access to mental health resources, particularly as they cope with the traumatic impact of treating COVID-19 patients. The need to prioritize access to mental healthcare for frontline providers gained national attention recently following the report of a New York City emergency room doctor who tragically died by suicide after recovering from COVID-19 and continuing to treat patients.
In Central New York, and across the country, frontline providers have worked long and stressful hours, faced critical supply shortages, and sacrificed living with their families as they work to treat hundreds of COVID-19 patients. Reports from across the country have depicted the devastating toll these stressors have taken on frontline providers. Further, recent studies have shown that healthcare professionals treating COVID-19 patients are suffering from higher rates of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and distress.
To provide support, Rep. Katko urged House Leaders to include funding for mental health screening and treatment for healthcare workers in the next COVID-19 relief package. Specifically, Rep. Katko and his colleagues advocated for a new grant program that would allow hospitals to meet the mental health needs of providers on the frontlines and urged a study that would assess the long-term mental health impacts of COVID-19 on healthcare workers.
“We are immensely grateful for the sacrifices our frontline providers have made, and continue to make, as they serve Central New York and our nation during this crisis,” said Rep. Katko. “With many healthcare workers enduring long and stressful hours, the crisis has taken a significant toll on their mental health. For this reason, I joined a bipartisan effort to authorize programs that would provide mental health resources to healthcare providers and assess the long-term impacts of working in this environment. Our healthcare workers have sacrificed for us during this time of need, and we owe it to them to provide the support they deserve.”
“Throughout this crisis, SUNY Upstate Medical University believes preserving the safety and well-being of our health care heroes — including securing their mental and emotional health — is of the utmost importance,” said Interim President of SUNY Upstate Mantosh Dewan, MD. “It’s clear that leaders like Representative Katko and his colleagues understand the enormous toll this pandemic is taking on our team members and their families, and we applaud the Congressman’s efforts to help institutions like Upstate ensure our employees receive the support they need.”