07:04 AM

Keck Medicine of USC expands employee wellness program to care for caregivers beyond pandemic

Expansion includes the appointment of Steven Siegel, MD, PhD, as chief mental health and wellness officer

LOS ANGELES — In a continued commitment to meet the needs of its health care workers, Keck Medicine of USC announces the expansion of its employee wellness Care for the Caregiver program. The program was launched in March 2020 to ease the stress experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic and offered comprehensive services that included mental health support for staff and faculty and free housing accommodations for frontline workers wishing to quarantine while keeping their loved ones safe.

“We’ve seen how important it is to offer our faculty and staff resources to keep them safe and healthy, and we want to continue to assist them as we enter into a new phase of the pandemic,” said Tammy Capretta, RN, MPH, chief transformation and risk officer for Keck Medicine. “The expansion of our employee wellness program will help us give back to our work force as they provide exceptional care to our patients.”

Keck Kindness and other employee initiatives

One new Care for the Caregiver initiative is the Keck Kindness program, which offers employees financial support to help with an immediate monetary need. “We know that many peoples’ financial situations have changed due to the pandemic and we want to help, whether it’s an assist with a car repair or other unexpected expenses,” said Capretta.

The program is also adding peer mentoring, resiliency training and grand rounds-style events that focus on the emotional impact of patient care, as well as other services to build both community and emotional health across the health system.

Appointment of Steven Siegel, MD, PhD, as chief mental health and wellness officer

In another program expansion, Keck Medicine has appointed Steven Siegel, MD, PhD, as chief mental health and wellness officer.

In this role, Siegel, who will also retain his position as chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, is responsible for overseeing and coordinating all mental health services for both patients and employees throughout the health system. He will supervise a staff of trained counselors to help employees with emotional well-being.

“This new position moves Keck Medicine forward as a leader in integrated mental health, and it’s an honor to be part of this significant investment in patient and staff well-being,” said Siegel.

Jonathan Wong, PsyD, a clinical psychologist with Keck Medicine and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences at the Keck School, will serve as clinical director of the program and is responsible for programmatic development and employee care.

In addition, the program will collaborate with other entities, such as the USC Center for Work and Family Life, to provide extra support as needed.

“The success of our Care for the Caregiver program underscores the importance of mental health support, as well as our collective strength when we care for one another,” said Siegel. “We are very excited to make our employee wellness program sustainable and permanent and look forward to continuing to evolve along with the needs of our faculty and staff.”