Should health care institutions provide job accommodations for health care workers with serious mental health concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Alexandra M. Villagran, Janet Malek, Sophie C. Schneider, Christi J. Guerrini


As the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic continues, increased attention has been given to its mental health impacts on frontline health care workers. There is a consensus, consistent with established standards applicable to the duty to treat, that health care workers who are especially vulnerable to risk of physical harm should be provided job accommodations to reduce their risk of disease exposure, but it is unclear whether health care workers should be provided similar accommodations if their vulnerability relates specifically to mental health concerns. Especially given emerging evidence that the pandemic is taking a heavy toll on the mental health of health care workers, this issue should be included in policy conversations involving support of health care workers and provision of resources to them during the pandemic. Arguments in favor of expanding accommodations to those with mental health concerns include institutions’ ethical duty to protect vulnerable workers and not discriminate against their employees, as well as broader consideration of the consequences of not providing accommodations, both for health care workers and patients.

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Journal of Hospital Administration

ISSN 1927-6990(Print)   ISSN 1927-7008(Online)

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