Let's end workplace violence

November 29, 2018 | by Mary Lou Mastro

Hospitals aren’t always quiet, serene places. All too often violence within hospital walls is reported in the media—and it is a serious wake-up call for all of us.

Emotions often run high. Tension can be thick. Mix in an illness or medication that affects a patient’s behavior and you have the proper conditions for a potentially serious situation.

Sometimes it’s not even a health issue that sparks violence, as we saw in an active shooter incident at Mercy Hospital in Chicago on Nov. 19, 2018.  We’re deeply saddened by the loss of lives during that event. This tragedy has surely hit too close to home, and I want you to know that at Edward-Elmhurst Health we remain highly focused on our workplace violence strategy.

We want our staff to report aggressive or violent behaviors so we can design interventions to keep people safe. Our goal is to create an environment that is welcoming and comfortable for patients and visitors—and at the same time, we don’t want employees to feel they need to tolerate aggressive or violent behavior. Ever.

In order to tackle this growing issue, Edward-Elmhurst Health organized a Workplace Violence Committee in January 2016 with representatives from a variety of departments.

This committee has been working on our Zero Harm, Zero Tolerance for Workplace Violence Initiative that raises awareness of workplace violence, putting policy and practice in place for prevention and education, providing guidelines for reporting and follow-up, and ensuring our staff and physicians have the support and resources necessary to maintain a safe work environment.

Some of the initiatives developed by the committee that are in place, or will be in place shortly, include:

  • Crisis Prevention Intervention training for all high-risk areas and clinical staff
  • Proactive rounding by Public Safety on inpatient units
  • Department-specific environmental assessments and modifications to enhance safety
  • A workplace violence scorecard for tracking reported incidents and following up
  • A Behavioral Emergency Response Team for all behavioral emergencies, preventing escalation and finding resolution
  • A workplace violence policy and policies for securing belongings, searches, videotaping and recording staff

Staff at both Edward Hospital and Elmhurst Hospital have walked through active shooter drills to see how a worst-case scenario could play out and to practice what we would do to stay safe.

At Edward-Elmhurst Health, we’re really focusing on workplace violence, particularly crisis intervention and how to address someone who escalates a situation. The bottom line is we don’t expect our employees, patients or visitors to be the victims of violence.

The safety of our staff, physicians, volunteers, patients and visitors is of utmost importance to us, and we’re committed to making our hospitals places of safety, comfort, inspiration and healing.

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