ChristianaCare Collaboration Wins $50,000 Grant for Health Care Worker Well-being

ChristianaCare won a $50,000 grant to support the mental health and well-being of health care workers at the second annual Delaware Health Sciences Alliance (DHSA) competition.

Sam Van Horne, PhD

DHSA solicited proposals from the scientific community for innovations designed to improve the health of Delawareans.

This year’s winning team, a collaboration by ChristianaCare and Nemours, beat three other teams in a “Shark Tank”-style competition modeled on the ideas-driven TV show. The project will develop education and training for mental health professionals counseling clients who work in the health care setting and are impacted by COVID-19.

The competition entry is titled “Using National Best Practices to Inform Mental Health Treatment for Delaware Healthcare Workers in the Wake of COVID-19.”

ChristianaCare team members are Vanessa Downing, PhD, director of the ChristianaCare Center for WorkLife Wellbeing, and Senior Research Associate Sam Van Horne, PhD. They worked with Maureen Leffler, D.O., MPH, of Nemours and Megan Call, PhD, of the University of Utah on the winning entry.

Vanessa Downing, PhD

Dr. Downing said the grant will be used to study national best practices for treating health care workers, including those not in clinical roles, and to improve the skills of local mental health providers.

“We definitely went into this competition feeling like we were the underdogs, and watching the other thee finalists’ presentations drove home that we were up against some incredibly skillful and talented competition,” she said. “So I’m feeling humbled but also very proud of our ChristianaCare/Nemours/Utah team — and of Sam, specifically—who pushed us to shoot for this grant which initially felt out of reach.

“We are simply thrilled to take on a project that will directly help health care workers across the state of Delaware, and possibly beyond.”

The winning team is “tackling tough, necessary issues of mental health among our most valuable resource — our caregivers,” said Omar Khan, M.D., MHS, president and CEO of the DHSA and physician leader of Research Administration and Scientific Affairs for ChristianaCare. “We are so proud to support important applied research, especially at this incredibly challenging time of COVID-19.

“A healthier Delaware depends on a healthy workforce,” Dr. Khan said. “Our entire DHSA team is pleased to foster open exchange on these issues, and we look forward to lessons learned from these experts at ChristianaCare and Nemours which may help others across the nation.”