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RISE: Health care workers get self care at Denver Health

By Justin Adams

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    DENVER (KCNC) — Health care workers need to be cared for as well, particularly when it comes to their mental health. At Denver Health they do this through a program called Resilience in Stressful Events, or RISE for short.

“The best mitigation for a traumatic experience is human connection,” said Denver Health RISE strategist and psychotherapist, Maria Gonsalves Schimpf.

About 300 workers visit the drop-in center daily. There they can grab a cup of coffee, get a massage, or even play their favorite tunes. The goal is to create a safe space for physical and emotional support.

“Any of our personnel can step into emotional support and it could be as anonymous as they would like it to be,” Schimpf said. “We want people to know that they don’t have to carry it alone. That there is a place to sit it down.”

Schimpf helped develop the program just before the pandemic began in January of 2020, and immediately, she saw the benefit of adding a 24/7 hotline offering peer support and counseling.

“We get calls in the middle of the night. We get calls you know, at 7 am at the close of a shift when someone needs to set something down for their home and their community,” she said.

Schimpf, is helping to take the RISE program nationwide by training other health care providers at hospitals in Wyoming, Texas and in rural Colorado. She believes this program will not only help health care providers survive but thrive.

“I feel hopeful that we can continue to replenish and restore and retreat in one another and that will allow us to continue this critical work for our community.”

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