Brattleboro Retreat Launches Healthcare Professionals Program for Caregivers in Crisis

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — The Brattleboro Retreat, a specialty psychiatric hospital for people of all ages, is now accepting patients for its Healthcare Professionals Program.

Launched as a remote clinical service, the program offers partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programming for currently employed and former nurses, physicians, dentists, EMTs, social workers, LNAs/CNAs, therapists, technologists, and other healthcare professionals who experience PTSD, anxiety, depression, stress, or substance-use disorder as a consequences of their jobs.

In a group therapy format, healthcare professionals address their personal challenges exclusively among peers, other healthcare professionals who understand the pressures of providing healthcare. The program’s partial hospital option consists of five groups per day, five days per week, Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., while the intensive outpatient option features three groups per day, five mornings per week, Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Participants receive personal orientations to establish individual treatment goals, as well as a consultation with a medical doctor. Group sessions are supplemented by one-on-one sessions to focus on personal needs and goals and to develop personalized after-care plans. Time spent in the program varies according to individual needs.

According to Program Manager Jim Ostendarp, the Healthcare Professionals Program at the Brattleboro Retreat comes as professional caregivers are under more stress than ever before, leading many people to leave the field.

“People who got into healthcare answered a call to care for others,  typically investing years of time and significant expense in education and training,” he said. “Yet they face a confluence of challenges in the form of drastically increased demands on their time and a perceived lack of respect that can lead to mental-health issues and substance misuse that damage lives and jeopardize hard-earned careers. Burnout is a real concern, and as more people leave the healthcare field, pressures only increase for those who remain.”

Ostendarp said the program’s goals are to “help people learn coping skills to manage their internal and external stresses, how to reduce their tension, how to build supportive relationships, and how to recognize and change unhealthy patterns of behavior — all so that they can live better, sleep better, and feel better about themselves. It’s all about caregivers caring for other caregivers in a group of peers who understand because they’ve been there too.”

As a remote clinical service, the Healthcare Professionals Program is available to caregivers wherever they live. “Telehealth has made significant advances in recent years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the embrace of the technology,” Ostendarp said. “We have demonstrated success in caring for patients via remote connection, and we can provide the group therapy and one-on-one sessions at the heart of the program via telehealth with convenience and in complete confidence.” As the program proceeds, he added, an in-person version is being studied.

Those wishing to learn more about the Healthcare Professionals Program should visit brattlebororetreat.org/hpp. Those interested in participating may fill out a pre-intake form online at brattlebororetreat.org/admissions or call (802) 258-3737 or (800) RETREAT. Verification of insurance acceptance is provided free of charge by Brattleboro Retreat.