Frequently Asked Questions

Legislation and Protections

After conversations with hundreds of physicians, PAs and clinicians across Virginia, the Medical Society of Virginia learned that providers:

Fear their employer and BOM will alter their employment and/or license status if they discuss their personal burnout
Fear their mental health status will be discovered and held against them in a medical malpractice trial
Do not feel protected when they need to seek help to address personal burnout concerns

Without providing legal protections and changing the law, those suffering most would continue to isolate versus seek help.

After our discussions with clinicians, the Board of Medicine, and other relevant stakeholders, including Virginia trial lawyers, we learned that the protections for clinicians are easily discoverable by their employers, the Board of Medicine, and the legal system.

In Virginia, we heard personal stories of physicians seeking behavioral health care and it being used against them in personal court cases, such as divorce, and even in medical malpractice cases, even if the court case had nothing to do with their seeking care. We have since realized that other licensed professionals experience similar issues and also need additional protections and support.

SafeHaven is a voluntary program. Its legislation provides protection of the work done in short-term behavioral health counseling and coaching. Our resource partner, VITAL WorkLife, provides the proactive, preventative well-being resources for burnout, career fatigue and mental health to over 37,000 physicians and 15,000 APPs; long-term psychotherapy, substance use treatment, or medication management are not provided.

SafeHaven offers several referral options for an employer who needs or requests a diversionary program as a condition of retaining employment. An employee taking part in a diversionary program does NOT enjoy the confidentiality protections (or other protections) of SafeHaven as it has been mandated by an employer and is reportable to HR. Protections like privileged communications or from reporting to the board are not available in a diversionary program. However, some protections may be available under laws governing a Physician Health Monitoring program or related laws in a state. We recommend a clinician seek advice on these matters from legal counsel before agreeing to enter such a program.

The Program

SafeHaven’s approach is founded on the expertise and Clinician Well-Being Resources of VITAL WorkLife. Here’s what clinicians and their families have access to with their annual enrollment.

  1. Counseling sessions: Up to 6 sessions per incident
  2. Peer Coaching: Up to 6 sessions per incident
  3. WorkLife Concierge: An all-purpose, 24/7 virtual assistant that helps manage tasks and maximize clinicians’ limited time
  4. VITAL WorkLife App: Access well-being resources quickly and easily

The over-arching goal shared among all these entities is to address clinician mental health and well-being before there are serious, life-altering impacts. Just as there are a wide and varied spectrum of needs, there are a variety of ways to treat and support those needs. Increased awareness and understanding of the unique roles each entity plays to positively affect mental health and well-being is a goal that unites us. SafeHaven welcomes partnerships with PHPs and other state resources to ensure the right care is provided at the right time.

SafeHaven is designed as an approachable, front-end, non-diagnostic well-being resource. Because of this, most of these enrollees are experiencing earlier symptoms of the burnout loss spiral and less likely to be experiencing impairment or in current need of PHP intervention. Further, Virginia’s PHP concentrates on substance abuse disorder related services and we have not yet worked with a subscribed clinician dealing with this intense an issue or suicidality. However, we provide referrals to employers for diversion services approximately 1 to 2 times per quarter upon request.

The SafeHaven cost for individuals is available here.

The SafeHaven cost for larger independent practices and Health Systems vary depending on a variety of factors, such as how many overall staff will participate, how many physicians and APPs versus nurses, the length of the agreement, etc. Please contact us if you would like more information on how to bring SafeHaven to your practice.

The SafeHaven program through the partnership of VITAL WorkLife does have a nominal revenue share component built into the retail price.  It is meant to cover staff costs and other ancillary expenses which will allow each state medical society to invest back into their mission of supporting their physicians as well as the overall healthcare profession.

State Medical Societies should not expect SafeHaven to become a significant source of non-dues revenue but rather expect a reliable source of underlying program support to offset related costs. We designed the program to be sustainable because our members’ mental health is too important to depend on fluctuating grants or other funding.

VITAL WorkLife Senior Behavioral Health Consultants are highly vetted, MA and PhD trained professionals with extensive experience working with those in healthcare, understanding of medical culture and knowledge of local supportive resources. Physician and nursing coaches are also licensed doctors and nurses respectively in addition to being professionally certified coaches.

SafeHaven employs VITAL WorkLife’s intake process, including a well-being assessment and determination of acuity and “fit” for a short-term, problem-solving counseling/coaching model. If a clinician presents with concerns that fall outside of our model (diagnostic assessment, medication management, inpatient or partial hospitalization, substance use treatment etc.) then SafeHaven’s team assists in finding appropriate referral resources to provide to that clinician.

The SafeHaven Difference

SafeHaven is designed to address the issues affecting the stigma of getting help and encourage early intervention so that healthcare professionals can continue to care for patients safely. This program is committed to identifying and providing a transfer of clinicians who find themselves in need of medical care or reportable interventions for substance use disorder and beyond. Some interventions might require leverage for clinicians to seek or receive treatment; however, we believe this represents less than 15% of the healthcare workforce. Healthcare needs more options for the other 85%.

SafeHaven is one of the most robust and well-rounded set of well-being resources available to healthcare clinicians and other licensed providers today. We actively encourage other service providers to expand their programs and outreach, as well as develop innovative approaches to address the burnout loss spiral facing healthcare today.

SafeHaven services were developed using the foundations of a traditional EAP but have been enhanced to best meet the needs of today’s clinicians, particularly when addressing work fatigue and burnout. The well-being resources chosen by SafeHaven are comprehensive, highly vetted, and closely managed by our vendor, which includes an organization with 40+ years’ experience and 20+ with healthcare clinicians specifically.

Through SafeHaven, a clinician can reach a trained professional 24/7/365, which is especially important for practitioners navigating shift work and grueling on-call schedules. A concierge service has been added to encourage clinicians needing help with everyday life responsibilities so they can concentrate on taking care of patients. Importantly, in addition to highly trained master-level counselors, SafeHaven provides access to physician and nurses who are certified peer counselors, to help navigate the special challenges, moral injury and other emotional effects of these unique professional roles.

After assembling this robust selection of services for clinicians, we added special protections to encourage providers to access services early without fear of termination, legal ramifications, or putting their licensure in jeopardy.

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Trusted Protection · Aligned Resources · Family Benefits