PRESS RELEASE

KAINE & MARSHALL INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN RESOLUTION RECOGNIZING MARCH 18 AS HEALTH WORKFORCE WELL-BEING DAY OF AWARENESS

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (February 28, 2024) – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Roger Marshall (R-KS), members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced a bipartisan resolution designating March 18, 2024 as Health Workforce Well-Being Day of Awareness. The date was selected to coincide with the day that the senator’s bipartisan Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Act was signed into law by President Biden in 2022.

“Our health care providers protect our health and well-being every day, often at the expense of their own. My Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act is making strides to reduce and prevent suicide, burnout, and mental and behavioral health conditions among health care professionals. I was proud to introduce a bill to reauthorize the law—but there’s more we can do to raise awareness,” said Senator Kaine. “Designating March 18 as Health Workforce Well-Being Day of Awareness would help reduce stigma, advance research, and ensure providers can get the care they need.”

“As a physician myself for over 25 years, I know how dedicated our health care workers are to serving their patients around the clock,” Senator Marshall said. “This job is not easy and requires strenuous hours and hard work, with immense stress and pressure; today, I’m proud to introduce our bipartisan resolution that designates March 18th as the Health Workforce Well-Being Day of Awareness. Honoring, supporting and taking time to recognize the challenges our health care professionals face is critical in providing every patient with excellent care.”

Kaine has long led efforts to protect the mental health and well-being of the health care workforce. Earlier this month, Kaine introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, which has already provided $100 million in funding for mental health care for providers across the country, including $5.6 million in federal funding for Virginia providers at UVA Health, Virginia Commonwealth University, and George Mason University, for five years. Named in honor of Dr. Lorna Breen, a physician from Charlottesville, Virginia who was working on the front lines of the pandemic in New York and died by suicide in the Spring of 2020, the law is helping to address mental health concerns facing our health care providers.

The resolution was cosponsored by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tina Smith (D-MN), Angus King (I-ME), Mark Warner (D-VA), Krysten Sinema (I-AZ), and Mark Kelly (D-AZ).

“We are deeply thankful to Senators Kaine and Marshall and all supporting organizations for establishing Health Workforce Well-Being Day, coinciding with the anniversary of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act’s enactment,” said Corey Feist, JD, MBA, co-founder and CEO of the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation. “Acknowledging the pressures health workers face and making their well-being a priority is essential – and our solutions must move far beyond individual resilience. It is vital that we drive evidence-informed, systems level solutions to reduce and prevent burnout, sustain well-being and build a system where health workers can thrive. This not only benefits the healthcare workforce but also improves patient care and contributes to the overall health of our communities.”

“The Medical Society of Virginia and its program, SafeHaven, stands in support of this resolution. This is important work in destigmatizing mental health and well-being in the healthcare profession. As we are seeing increased provider burnout and many choosing to leave the profession, now is the time to come together and support these professionals who care for us every day. This is another step in the right direction to changing the landscape of healthcare worker mental health,” said Medical Society of Virginia CEO and Executive Vice President, Melina Davis.

“Formal federal acknowledgment of the importance of wellness and well-being among America’s health care professionals has immense value,” said Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton. “Many health care providers experienced burnout associated with the emotional strain and the physical toll of caring for patients amid the intensity of the COVID-19 pandemic, which also coincided with workforce challenges across the sector. Policies such as the reauthorization of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act to provide support and dedicated resources for health care professionals, and an official resolution designating March 18 as Health Workforce Well-Being Day of Awareness, speak volumes about the commitment of elected officials to care for the clinicians who offer comfort and medical treatment to countless Americans. We commend Senator Kaine and his colleagues in Congress who have championed these efforts.”

“Senator Kaine’s resolution to designate March 18 as Health Workforce Well-Being Day of Awareness is an important step in bringing attention to issues of health workforce burn out and mental health. The George Mason University College of Public Health and the Center for Health Workforce look forward to working with Senator Kaine and the legislature to address health worker well-being and the critical shortage of health workers in the state,” said Dr. Melissa J. Perry, Dean of George Mason’s College of Public Health.

“The wellbeing of our nation’s health care providers is essential, and I’m proud to support the Health Workforce Well-Being Day of Awareness on March 18,” said Nancy Howell Agee, CEO of Carilion Clinic and past chair of the American Hospital Association. “Thank you to Senators Kaine, Marshall, Reed, Capito, Stabenow, Collins, Klobuchar, Smith, and King for continuing to shine a light on the needs of those who dedicate their lives to caring for their neighbors.”

“As healthcare providers, we’re in the business of taking care of people and that starts with our team members,” said Marlon Levy, M.D., MBA, interim senior vice president, VCU Health Sciences and interim chief executive officer, VCU Health System. “VCU Health is proud to support Senator Kaine’s and Senator Marshall’s resolution designating March 18 as Health Workforce Well-Being Day of Awareness. Having a healthy, engaged and caring workforce is essential to taking care of our communities.”

“We are grateful to Sen. Kaine for his support for the well-being of healthcare workers through his resolution to create a ‘Health Workforce Well-Being Day of Awareness.’ Promoting wellbeing helps our team members provide high-quality care to patients while working in an often demanding and stressful profession,” said K. Craig Kent, MD, University of Virginia Health CEO.

“It’s impossible to hear stories day in and day out of physical challenge and hardship and emotional trauma without absorbing some of our patients’ pain. Medicine done well involves sympathizing but more importantly empathizing with our patients. Over time, this burden of human suffering can build up. Recognizing the importance of an emotionally healthy workforce helps acknowledge it’s importance. That can then guide the dedication of appropriate time and resources directed toward that goal. We wholeheartedly support the Health Workforce Well-Being Day of Awareness,” said Dr. David Roberts, Chief Medical Officer, Community Health Center of the New River Valley.

A full list of supporting organizations and quotes is available here.

Full text of the resolution is available here.