Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Thrive Global, and Creative Artists Agency Launch #FirstRespondersFirst to support healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic

For immediate release: Monday, March 23, 2020

Boston, MA – #FirstRespondersFirst is an initiative created to provide first responder healthcare workers with physical and psychological resources they so desperately need as they serve on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conceived by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, America’s oldest professional training program in public health, Thrive Global, the behavior change technology company founded by Arianna Huffington, and the CAA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA), #FirstRespondersFirst will provide support for this workforce, ranging from minimum-wage hourly workers in home-care settings to social workers, nurses, physicians, and beyond.

“As this crisis continues to unfold, it’s important for those on the frontlines to be fortified with essential equipment while being supported to care for themselves. Doing so will allow frontline healthcare workers to be more effective, more resilient and have more of an impact when we all take these proactive steps,” said Michelle Williams, Dean of Harvard Chan School.  “We must remember that in this time of crisis, the results of these steps are measured in lives saved.”

For all the uncertainty wrought by the coronavirus, one thing is certain: across the country, every day and every night, our first responders are navigating the challenges of this moment with courage and compassion. As U.S. residents are asked to serve the public health by stepping back — staying home, sheltering in place, and otherwise minimizing their contact with the outside world—these healthcare workers are being tasked with stepping forward.  As frontline healthcare workers step forward to address this epic public health challenge, their own health is threatened due to shortages in personal protective equipment, including gowns, gloves, and masks. #FirstRespondersFirst will launch a fundraising call to action to help address these needs. Donations to #FirstRespondersFirst will provide essential supplies and equipment for protecting frontline healthcare workers and their patients.

Frontline healthcare workers worldwide even in normal times face vast challenges when it comes to prioritizing their own health; that strain is greatly compounded amid a public health crisis. Already in response to COVID-19, thousands of healthcare workers are falling ill. In China, nearly 3,400 healthcare workers have been infected, and 22 have died—not just from the virus itself, but from cardiac arrest and other conditions caused by overwork and exhaustion. In Italy, at least 2,629 health workers have gotten sick—8.3 percent of total cases in that country. And here in the US, dozens of frontline workers have already been infected, with many others having to self-quarantine. The burdens—both acute and chronic—that healthcare workers face today are leading to a dangerous burnout epidemic, which will have devastating consequences for both providers and patients.

Harvard Chan School, which has a distinguished century-old history of developing and communicating evidence-based environmental, occupational, and behavioral health information, will provide evidence-based content specifically tailored to this demographically and socially diverse workforce.  Powered by Thrive Global’s behavior change platform, #FirstRespondersFirst will deliver access to online workshops, virtual training, coaching, and content, all of which aim to help improve the physical and mental well-being of healthcare workers, through Microsteps that focus on sleep, movement, nutrition, stress management, and relationships with colleagues.

“When the story of this pandemic is written, the heroes will be the healthcare workers who risked their own health and endured burnout and exhaustion among many other challenges on our behalf,” said Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO of Thrive Global. “We must, as a nation, show up for this community as they are showing up for us. #FirstRespondersFirst is our call to action on their behalf—both to the communities they serve, to join us in supporting them and their needs, and to the frontline healthcare workers themselves to remind them that it’s not only okay, but essential to practice some Microsteps to support their own health and manage their own stress even during these unprecedented challenging times.”

The #FirstRespondersFirst program will also tap into CAA’s vast resources and relationships with cultural influencers, helping to raise awareness around the well-being and needs of health providers and public health allies in the fight against Coronavirus. The agency works with the world’s premier entertainers and athletes, leaders in politics and policy, Nobel Prize Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, and many other of today’s foremost thinkers and change agents.

“This workforce must prioritize selfcare.  Harvard’s science and evidence-based work, combined with Thrive Global’s tools, will now be easily accessible through #FirstRespondersFirst.  If you are a healthcare worker or love a healthcare worker, please use these resources,” said Richard Lovett, President, CAA.  “Our frontline healthcare professionals need the support of everyone in this country.  Our goal is that #FirstRespondersFirst becomes the destination for healthcare workers and those who wish to support these heroes.”

#FirstRespondersFirst is launching with a group of frontline healthcare workers and caregivers that will be constantly expanding in the days and weeks ahead. As of today, key partners participating in virtual town halls and amplifying the importance of supporting the global healthcare workforce are: Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Commonwealth Care Alliance, Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, Elara Caring, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Health Law Advocates, Massachusetts AFL-CIO: (SEIU Local 509), Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, Massachusetts Health Council, Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, Massachusetts Medical Society, Massachusetts Senior Care Association, MGH Institute for Health Professions, National Association of Social Workers-MA, Partners In Health, and The Schwartz Center.

#FirstRespondersFirst is a fund of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), a Charity Navigator 4 Star Charity that meets all 20 BBB Charity Standards.

For more information:

Meaghan Agnew
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Monica Lee
Thrive Global

Beth McClinton

Photo: Getty Images


About Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health:
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere. As a community of leading scientists, educators, and students, we work together to take innovative ideas from the laboratory to people’s lives—not only making scientific breakthroughs, but also working to change individual behaviors, public policies, and health care practices. Each year, more than 400 faculty members at Harvard Chan School teach 1,000-plus full-time students from around the world and train thousands more through online and executive education courses. Founded in 1913 as the Harvard-MIT School of Health Officers, the School is recognized as America’s oldest professional training program in public health.

About Thrive Global:
Thrive Global is a leading behavior change tech company helping individuals, corporations and communities improve their well-being and performance through our behavior change platform, storytelling and corporate services. Thrive was founded by Arianna Huffington and launched in 2016 with the mission of changing the way we work and live by ending the collective delusion that burnout is the price we must pay for success. We offer companies and individuals sustainable, science-based solutions to enhance both mental and physical well-being and performance, purpose and relationship with technology. We are committed to accelerating this culture shift around the world. Thrive Global is headquartered in New York City and has offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Athens, Mumbai, Melbourne and Bucharest. For more information, visit www.thriveglobal.com.

About CAA Foundation:
CAA Foundation was founded in 1995, born out of Creative Artists Agency’s (CAA) desire to give back to communities and harness the power and reach of the entertainment industry to create positive social change by forging strategic partnerships, encouraging volunteerism, granting financial contributions, stimulating public awareness, and providing in-kind donations. The CAA Foundation has become a leader in the entertainment community on education, the environment, and health and social issues. Leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA) represents many of the most successful and innovative professionals working in film, television, music, video games, theatre, commercial endorsements, and digital content, and provides a range of strategic marketing and consulting services to corporate clients.  CAA is also a leader in sports, representing more than 2,000 of the world’s top athletes in football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, Olympics and action sports, in addition to coaches, on-air broadcasters, and sports personalities and works in the areas of broadcast rights, corporate marketing initiatives, licensing, and sports properties for sales and sponsorship opportunities.  For more information, please visit www.caa.com.