Behavioral Health Resources for Employees
Our community at Boston Medical Center Health System is providing critical services during these highly stressful circumstances. It is normal to experience stress and anxiety as a result of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage you to take a moment to check-in with yourself on how you are feeling. A group of Behavioral Health clinicians at BMC has developed online resources for employees that include tips for recognizing and processing your emotions, as well as resources available to employees.
Talking to someone about an experience can help mitigate your physiological response, and challenge any possible negative thoughts about yourself and/or others. We are committed to providing wellbeing support for any employee who needs it. BMC employees can receive direct support for their emotional well-being from:
- Our Employee Assistance Program is available for free, 24/7 confidential counseling to all employees and their families experiencing behavioral health issues such as stress and anxiety, substance use, and adjustment disorders. For more information, visit www.guidanceresources.com and use Web ID: BMC. For counseling and referrals call: 833-306-0107
- Beth Milaszewski, LICSW, the employee assistance clinician, is available to speak to individuals and teams and provide support related to stress management, anxiety, work conflicts, and traumatic events and situations. You can reach Beth at [email protected], 617-414-4357, or by paging 8010.
- 24/7 Real-time Psychological First Aid Support: Page x5804 or call the BMC operator and an on-call licensed clinician who understands the hospital environment will call you back within 30 minutes. You can also email [email protected] to schedule a time to speak with someone by phone or Zoom.
- Doctor on Demand for Mental Health: You can receive convenient and confidential behavioral health visits through online video chat with licensed practitioners. Appointments are generally available within 2 days. Conditions treated include depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma and loss. Medications that the psychiatrist prescribes can be called in to any local pharmacy, including BMC. For the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak, this service will be free. Learn more about this service here.
- Chaplain on Demand: Chaplains have an appreciation for the reality of human fragility and understand the feelings of uncertainty and anxiety that you may be experiencing. As members of the hospital's interdisciplinary team, we are trained to respond to your spiritual, emotional and religious needs. Call 617-414-4299 to speak with a member of Chaplaincy Services.
- Scarlet Soriano MD, ABIHM is offering complementary, one-on-one integrative medicine wellness sessions over Zoom for BMC employees. These 20-minute sessions are open to BMC employees who are interested in additional evidence-based and evidence-informed tools to improve health and wellbeing during these challenging times. These individual sessions will be held on Monday and Wednesday mornings between 9 a.m. and 12:40 p.m. Sessions are available in English and Spanish. The sessions are not focused on mental health diagnoses, though the tools can benefit overall wellbeing including mind, body and spirit. Please contact Dr. Soriano directly at [email protected] to set up your Zoom session.
- The Working Well Clinic has established an email address ([email protected]) for staff questions related to your health and safety such as travel, exposure, and staying home/self-isolation or when to return to work.
Tip Sheets and Other Resources
Your wellbeing is about more than direct support. The following benefits are available to help make your life easier during this time.
- Doctor on Demand for Urgent Care: If you get sick and you're not sure if it’s serious, or what to do, call Doctors On Demand. For the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak, this service will be free for employees enrolled in our group medical plans with HPI. Generally within a few minutes, you’ll be linked to a board certified doctor who can treat your condition, order a prescription, or triage you to an appropriate location if needed. It’s quick, easy and cheap. Learn how to use the service here.
- Employee Pharmacy Concierge Program: To ensure you or a family member always have your maintenance medications on hand, take advantage of BMC’s free home delivery program. You won’t need to wait in line at a pharmacy or run out of your prescription. If you’re on a BMC medical plan, you can save 75% or more off the cost of your co-payments. To enroll in the program, email [email protected].
- TIAA Investment Advice: Effective Monday, March 16, TIAA’s 1:1 investment advice and retirement planning sessions for BMC employees will be available by phone or video conference with a shared screen. The onsite consultations have temporarily been suspended. To schedule a session call TIAA at 800-410-6649.
- Circles: BMC Personal Assistance Program: With the possible prolonged challenges of responding to COVID-19, the importance of your own self-care is essential for you to be able to care for our patients and your own families. Let Circles help you and your household with some newer issues you may be experiencing. Here are some examples of what Circles is doing to help employees:
- Cancel travel or plans (calling airlines, waiting on hold for refunds, general changes to itineraries or trips - flights, cruises, hotels, tickets, shows, etc.)
- Locating hard to find products or services (calling stores in your area to check inventory – cleaning supplies, disinfectant, paper goods, water, batteries, generators, etc.)
- Supporting your family while you work (kids activities at home to keep them busy and continue learning, home cleaning check lists, supply ordering, errand running, etc.)
- Helping you prioritize your health (at-work 10-minute exercises, quick and nutritious ideas for lunch, at home routines, easy meal prep ideas, etc.)
- Call 877-231-0456, email: [email protected], or visit: https://members.circles.com/bmc for more information. BUMG employees should use their Boston University ID number to enroll.
- Virtual Mindfulness Classes: In an effort to provide emotional, social and spiritual support during the COVID-19 outbreak, our mindfulness team (Gabby Farquhar, Dr. Scarlet Soriano, and Bonita Jones) is excited to offer virtual services to all employees and teams. Please see the calendar of events for the remainder of March and April. Each session will include a practice and check in with our community.
- Parking: BMC employees who are not currently part of the parking program are temporarily able to park in 710 or DOB Garages at a rate of $8/day, which is the approximate daily cost of our parking program rates. Employees who are currently part of the parking program, should continue to use their assigned garages.
- Pay and Benefits: In order to provide some additional measures of economic security for you and your family in the event of your absence from work due to the COVID-19 related pandemic, BMC will be:
- Allowing employees to access to up to 80 hours of unearned ET (e.g., go to a negative balance) beginning immediately.
- Continuing our health coverage during any period of COVID-19 related absence.
- Staff Accommodations close to the hospital with discounted rates for BMC employees
- BMC’s food pantry is extending its services to all employees and their households to provide access to nutritious food when it’s needed most. Should you or any of your team members require additional nutrition resources, the Food Pantry has created as easy two-step process:
- Contact Latchman Hiralall by phone (617-414-3834) or by email ([email protected]) to schedule a pickup appointment.
- When you arrive for your pickup: briefly display your BMC badge for proof of employment, state the number of members in your household and any allergies or food restrictions.
- The BMC Food Pantry is located in the basement level of the Yawkey Building. Appointments can be made every two weeks, as needed.
- BMC's Domestic Violence Program: This program is a resource for employees, patients, community members, and anyone (teens and adults including elders) who is seeking help with domestic violence, particularly abuse by a current or former partner. Services are free, voluntary and confidential. Please call 617-414-5457 or click here to learn more.
- Online educational resource for children grades K-12: BMC employees and their families now have access to EverFi's online K-12 Family Portal, which provides age appropriate educational content for school age children. Content includes financial readiness, mental wellness, digital wellness, career exploration, prescription drug safety, and many more. Content is divided up by elementary, middle and high school age curriculum, and your child will have access to all content for one of these three age ranges, not just their specific grade. Free access will be available at least through the summer. To sign up visit the EVERFI Family Portal, and select your state and your child's school name. You'll receive the full catalog of age-appropriate courses for your child.
- [email protected] for Backup Care: Find last-minute care for children, adults, and elders so you can go to work. The cost is $6/hour for in-home care or $10/day/child for in-center care. Employees may use up to 10 backup care days/year. All in-home care providers are fully vetted employees of Care.com.
- In response to CDC guidance, Care.com has added an additional level of screening criteria to the Backup Care request process. This screening is applied to both the families requesting care as well as the providers.
- When requesting back up care, you will be asked if anyone has either a confirmed case of COVID-19 in their household or reason to believe their household has been exposed to the virus, including recent travel to a CDC-designated area of concern. In these cases, we will require a 14-day wait period following the last possible exposure. In the case of actual infection, they will require that you have received medical clearance.
- For services, call 855-781-1303, visit bmc.care.com, or download the “[email protected]” app.
- Boston University Medical Group (BUMG) employees should visit bumg.care.com/ to use Care.com benefits.
- State Emergency Childcare: The state has granted exemptions for certain childcare providers to provide emergency care for essential workers, including BMC essential employees at no cost. More information is available on Mass.gov and the list of providers can also be found here.
- Volunteer Babysitting and Other Services Available: A medical student-led volunteer initiative has been set up to offer childcare and other support services to all BMC employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please click here for more details.
Student Loan Repayment
Public Student Loans: The CARES Act offers substantial relief by automatically suspending monthly payments, and reducing interest to 0%, from March 13, 2020 to September 30, 2020 borrower of federal loans. Read about the student loan provision here.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness: If you are pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), and have direct federal loans, were on a qualifying repayment plan prior to the event, or continue to work for an eligible employer, the 6 month suspended payment will count toward your required 120 monthly payments under PSLF.
Therefore, you will only need to make 114 qualifying payments in total. Our partner Savi can assist you in ensuring you qualify. Visit BMC.bysavi.com to learn about the program. You may also contact Savi at 833-604-1226 or [email protected] for more information.
Private Student Loans: Employees with student loans from Laurel Road who are experiencing an impact to their income as a result of COVID-19, may take advantage of a loan forbearance with just a simple phone call to request it. This Forbearance will give you three months without having to make a loan payment with the opportunity to extend this up to 12 months in three month increments if needed. For questions or a free consultation call 855-245-0989 or email [email protected].
Student Loan Payment Relief for Massachusetts Student Loan Borrowers: The Massachusetts Division of Banks (DOB) has joined a multi-state initiative to secure payment relief options for Massachusetts student loan borrowers and issued a Consumer Advisory with important information and resources for private student loan borrowers.
Under this initiative, borrowers with commercially-owned Federal Family Education Program Loans or privately held student loans who are struggling to make their payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible for expanded relief. Borrowers in need of assistance must immediately contact their student loan servicer to identify the options that are appropriate to their circumstances. Relief options include:
- Providing a minimum of 90 days of forbearance
- Waiving late payment fees
- Ensuring that no borrower is subject to negative credit reporting
- Ceasing debt collection lawsuits for 90 days
- Working with borrowers to enroll them in other borrower assistance programs, such as income based repayment.
Additional information and resources, including a full list of participating private student loan servicers, are included in the Division’s Consumer Advisory.