Services for Healthcare Workers


The Program for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Studies (PATSS) is led by Dr. JoAnn Difede, an expert in the field of anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dr. Difede has worked in a major urban academic medical center for the past 25 years collaborating with medical staff throughout the institution on studies in a range of medical populations (e.g., pulmonary, acute trauma, burns, cancer, pediatrics) and thus has worked with a broad range of health care workers. She has also consulted with health care worker staff following a range of work-related critical incidents.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Difede and colleagues developed and led the CopeWeillCornell Liaison program, a team-based initiative to provide tailored psychological support to clinical departments/divisions at NewYork-Presbyterian affiliated hospitals. The program consisted of over 60 volunteer liaisons who led 1,076 town hall meetings with approximately 6,131 attendees. A manuscript on this work is in preparation.

Currently, PATSS provides care for healthcare workers and other occupations, such as police, firefighters, and disaster workers, as frontline workers have occupational exposure to a range of experiences which put them at risk for PTSD and psychological distress. PATSS provides free treatment through clinical research for frontline workers who worked during the COVID-19 pandemic and/or have been exposed to occupational-related trauma.

Dr. Difede and her team have pioneered the use of virtual reality beginning with the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001 and is now using virtual reality to treat PTSD and moral injury in healthcare workers consequent to the COVID-19 pandemic.

                   Pictures of the VR environment

We have also developed a study using medical music and narrative writing entitled A Brief Phased Two-stepped Intervention for Treating General Psychological Distress, PTSD, and Co-morbidities in Healthcare Workers Consequent to the COVID-19 Pandemic, which is about to begin enrollment. The study aims to implement a scalable, stepped two-phase intervention program for traumatic stress in healthcare workers who have cared for COVID-19 patients.

For more information, please contact, 212-821-0783.



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