Los Angeles-based Keck Medicine of USC has expanded its employee wellness program, Care for the Caregiver, and appointed Steven Siegel, MD, PhD, as chief mental health and wellness officer.

The health system — which announced the appointment and program expansion July 1 — said it launched the program in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program has included mental health support for staff and faculty and free housing for quarantined front-line workers.

“We’ve seen how important it is to offer our faculty and staff resources to keep them safe and healthy, and we want to continue to assist them as we enter into a new phase of the pandemic,” Tammy Capretta, RN, chief transformation and risk officer for Keck Medicine, said in a news release. “The expansion of our employee wellness program will help us give back to our work force as they provide exceptional care to our patients.”

Under Care for the Caregiver, Keck Medicine said it will offer a new initiative, Keck Kindness, for employees who need immediate financial support to assist with unexpected expenses such as a car repair. 

The health system said it also is adding peer mentoring, resiliency training and grand rounds-style events “that focus on the emotional impact of patient care, as well as other services to build both community and emotional health across the health system.”

Additionally, Dr. Siegel, who will remain chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, was hired for his new role and will oversee and coordinate patient and employee mental health services.   

The health system said Jonathan Wong, PsyD, a clinical psychologist with Keck Medicine and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences at the Keck School of Medicine, will serve as clinical director of Care for the Caregiver.

Read more about the program expansion here.