VCH appoints workplace wellness ambassador

2022-12-06 12:00 AM
Regional In the Spotlight; Mental health & wellness; Recognition; Working at VCH

​​​These are indeed challenging times for healthcare workers.

The pandemic, among other factors, has caused unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety amongst VCH staff and medical staff, putting a renewed spotlight on the importance of wellness.

And one VCH medical leader in particular is deeply in tune with the concept of wellness, so much so, in fact, that he has made it his calling.

Meet Dr. Ashok Krishnamoorthy (pictured above), the newly appointed (and inaugural) VCH Regional Medical Director, Wellness, who says he is thankful for the opportunity to help spearhead wellness initiatives at VCH.

“I am deeply grateful to VCH for establishing this new role," says Dr. Krishnamoorthy. “This is an important step, and I appreciate the ongoing organizational commitment to enhancing workplace wellness for staff and medical staff."

He also makes clear that, although this position may be new, there are plenty of talented individuals within VCH who have been helping promote wellness for some time.

“I'm really looking forward to uniting the efforts of our devoted medical staff and medical leaders already engaged in this important work, to help create an evidence-based approach towards wellness at VCH," says Dr. Krishnamoorthy.

Being a psychiatrist and frontline physician, he has been treating fellow physicians as patients for several years, and has witnessed many of them at the illness end of the spectrum. He says this was partly what drove his initial desire to promote wellness amongst his peers at VCH.

“I have seen firsthand how wellness tends to take a backseat for a lot of staff and medical staff," says Dr. Krishnamoorthy. “In particular, mental health and substance use issues are ones which most individuals seek support for quite late, which has helped me understand the barriers and stigma around them."

He was also co-chair of the Doctors of BC Physician Health Program (PHP) Steering Committee and president of the Richmond Hospital Medical Staff Association (RHMSA), each of which provided him with valuable experience related to wellness.

“I have had the privilege of seeing wellness-related challenges and successes firsthand, and from various perspectives within health care, which I think will benefit me as I enter into this new role," says Dr. Krishnamoorthy.

With the ongoing health human resource (HHR) challenges, he acknowledges the fatigue that staff and medical staff are no doubt feeling, and stresses the importance of empathy and teamwork, now more than ever.

“The most important thing we can do right now is to check in on the people around us," says Dr. Krishnamoorthy. “We know that working as a single unit can lead to intolerable burnout, so we must try to work as a team as much as possible."

He also says medical leaders are particularly susceptible to burnout, with additional responsibilities on top of their day-to-day clinical work.

“The LEADS framework talks about leading oneself first, to achieve the required physical and mental capability to support your team members effectively, hence it is critical for medical leaders to engage in self care," says Dr. Krishnamoorthy.

He is grateful for the opportunity to help create an overarching wellness strategy which encompasses the values and strategic goals of VCH, but acknowledges the magnitude of the road ahead.

“We have a big task ahead of us and we'll encounter challenges along the way," says Dr. Krishnamoorthy. “But I am confident that, through the foundational efforts of VCH staff and medical staff, we'll get there."

​In the meantime, he reminds us to engage in activities that may help relieve stress, which for him, include physical exercise, networking and spending time with family.