Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health (CERH), surveyed essential healthcare workers in Huron County, who continued to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, to report on how the pandemic has affected their health and well-being. The survey was intended to be a snapshot during the peak period of COVID activity in our rural area. Data for this initiative was collected through an online questionnaire, which resulted in 160 participants.
Gateway CERH secured funding from Perth-Huron United Way for this project. As Nancy Simpson, Project Lead, said: “… collectively and in partnership, we are making a difference in our community.” The results from the survey provided insight into the emerging needs of our local rural healthcare workers, the types of support systems currently available, as well as identifying supports needed to serve healthcare workers in our local communities.
Commenting on the partnership between Gateway and Perth-Huron United Way, Simpson said: “[we] are two local organizations well aligned in [our] mission and support of residents. The United Way’s objective is to maximize the positive impact on communities through evidence-based priorities and actions.”
The questionnaire provided essential healthcare workers with the opportunity to report on how the pandemic is affecting their health and well-being both personally and professionally. It was sent out to local community psychiatric services, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, family health teams, hospitals, pharmacies, hospices, as well as emergency medical services.
Commenting on the project, Simpson said: “with the funding provided by the COVID-19 Urgent Needs Fund, Gateway reacted quickly to develop and circulate a survey to rural healthcare workers to assess the impact of the pandemic on the well-being of these essential workers.”
Taylor Pratt, Summer Student Research Assistant, made a public call to individuals working in the Huron County Health Care sector, asking them to participate in the questionnaire. To circulate the survey, Pratt turned to social media, phone calls, and email - directly reaching 74 healthcare workers. Commenting on the participant response rate, Pratt said: “we are amazed by the number of responses we received. We appreciate the honesty and willingness of the healthcare workers’ responses.”
Dr. Al Lauzon, Chair of Rural Change and Development and Casandra Bryant, Research Associate have been analyzing the data and developing a report. Commenting on the data, Bryant said: “just over three-quarters of respondents feel that workplace stressors have impacted their life outside of work highlighting mental and physical health concerns, work-life balance challenges, and concerns directly related to the family.”
The survey results suggest that over half (65%) of respondents indicated that they have experienced personal stressors at work since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of these respondents, 96% believe the personal stressors they are experiencing are a direct result of the pandemic. For those who responded that they were already experiencing personal stressors prior to the pandemic, 95% reported the pandemic has exacerbated the stress they are experiencing.