Authors: Montray Smith, MSN, MPH, RN-Ph.D. Student-University of Louisville School of Nursing, and Vicki Hines-Martin, PhD, PMHCNS, RN, FAAN-University of Louisville School of Nursing
Title: Strategies to Decrease Healthcare Providers’ Stress in a Federal Medical Station (FMS) Medical Needs Shelter in the U.S., after a Hurricane Disaster
The National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) is a United States federally coordinated system that augments the nation’s medical response capability. NDMS Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) are used to provide the medical care when local and state resources are overwhelmed in response to natural and human-made disasters. DMAT team members deploy to devastating situations and work in austere conditions to provide medical care and support when it is needed most. The stress that professionals experience during these events require intentional and therapeutic interventions to support emotional and mental resilience. Evidence based interventions will be presented
DMATs were deployed after Hurricane Maria to work in a Federal Medical Station (FMS), at the Coliseum Bencito, Manati, Puerto Rico. The FMS was operated through a collaboration of federal agencies and non-government agencies. Community infrastructure was destroyed including two area hospitals, overwhelming available resources and patient care demands
Several strategies were utilized to decrease stress levels among nurses and other DMAT healthcare providers. These strategies include debriefing session, personal downtime, fun activities, scheduled sleep times, and continuous staff communication.
Healthcare providers were able to decrease stress levels while working with community partners to provide both acute and chronic healthcare needs in an area where healthcare services were impacted from a hurricane. Feedback (both verbal and written) was provided to administration on this issue.
Heightened emotional responses in a disaster setting are expected and should be a focus of intervention even with healthcare providers. Nurses were able to employ disaster nursing knowledge, including mental health strategies in this setting.