IU Health’s Code Lavender helps the helpers endure COVID19’s front lines


INDIANAPOLIS — COVID-19 patients are not the only people in need of healing from this virus. Healthcare workers tending to patients in their greatest time of need are hurting too.

Fortunately, IU Health has a program inside hospitals in their southern region called Code Lavender.

“It was designed to be an informal intervention to reach out to team members who may have had a really stressful last number of week, or weeks or days,” Shawn Gerber, Chaplain Manager for Southcentral Region at IU Health, said. “Usually that’s because they’ve had a series of really difficult events or maybe some difficult deaths, or maybe a really high census. All of these things really apply right now amidst the COVID season.”

Gerber said unit managers will reach out to him when they feel like those on their team are in need of some encouragement and they schedule one of these informal interventions.

“It’s not chaplains alone that do this,” Gerber explained. “I got my critical nurse specialist team member and recreational therapy, so it’s a mixture of disciplines that provide the supportive presence.”

Gerber said they provide snacks, but the conversations happening at the meetings are most beneficial to the staff.

“It’s really about the people that show up, and making these interpersonal connections with the team,” Gerber said. “Just really commiserating with one another, crying with one another, laughing with one another. Our conversations vacillate between talking about our pets and about even team members who have learned to support one another through playing video games these days, virtually. But also saying how hard this has been.”

Gerber said, “the beautiful piece is seeing the team members reach out to one another.” He added there are ways all of us can show our support to the healthcare workers during this difficult time.

“For people of prayer, keep praying,” Gerber said. “For people of goodwill and of love, keep loving your neighbor. In addition to those things like extending compassion and loving one another is wearing your mask, keeping six feet distance, cause we’re really filling up right now.”

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