CEO Report: Protecting Hope & Healing
Posted on May 01, 2019
"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." - African Proverb
We are now less than two months away from a truly “Grand” celebration of the association’s 100-year anniversary, as the MHA Annual Membership Meeting will take place — as always — at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island June 26-28. Our team looks forward to being with the MHA family once again in this special setting as we reflect on our successes of the past program year and, indeed, the past 100 years.
Speaking of celebrations, from May 12-18 we will celebrate National Hospital Week, a time when the MHA salutes the hospitals, health systems and Michigan’s more than 230,000 hospital employees for the work they do to make our communities healthier, while contributing significantly to local and regional economies. It is a time to step back and truly celebrate the hope and healing that our volunteers, nurses, physicians, support staff, administrators and so many more people provide to their patients and communities every day.
To provide the best environment possible for our healthcare workers to provide hope and healing, the MHA has been actively involved in efforts to improve workplace safety across our hospitals and health systems. It is no coincidence that as violent acts committed in the healthcare workplace increase, so do burnout levels among care providers, with fear of violence and emotional/psychological safety being a leading cause. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare workers are four times more likely to be injured because of violence in the workplace than the average private sector employee. The rates are even higher for those who work with behavioral health and emergency department patients. An article by Reuters described the healthcare industry as “the most violent non-law-enforcement industry in the United States.”
Not coincidentally, the two sectors most involved in addressing the opioid epidemic are law enforcement and healthcare. Hospitals are seeing an ever-increasing number of patients (and family members) who suffer from substance use disorders. Since one of the common patient behaviors that lead to a violent act is substance abuse, hospitals are experiencing another consequence of the epidemic.
Just as the MHA Keystone Center has been integral in addressing the opioid epidemic, it has embraced workplace safety as one of its key focus areas for this year, stepping forward as a leader to help improve safety for the more than 602,000 healthcare workers in our state. Those efforts include recently hosting numerous training sessions, webinars, member forums and safe tables on reducing healthcare workplace violence. Specific examples include:
- The MHA Keystone Center has launched a new collaborative to identify, develop and implement workplace safety risk-reduction strategies. Nearly 80 MHA members met virtually and in-person March 11 as part of the launch of the collaborative. Also in March, members of the MHA Keystone Center Patient Safety Organization (PSO) came together to discuss patient safety topics that they are facing at the annual PSO Annual Meeting.
- The MHA Keystone Center PSO has initiated an in-depth analysis of workplace safety-related data. By leading the charge in data collection and analysis, we hope to provide the necessary information that will support further protections and identify very specific opportunities for improvement.
- As cited by a 2015 study from Wayne State University, care transitions are a situational factor that can contribute to a violent act. In conjunction with MPRO, the MHA Keystone Center is hosting a statewide summit on care transitions June 18 in Livonia.
In addition to the MHA Keystone Center efforts, the MHA and our endorsed business partner HSS have offered workplace safety training sessions to members across the state and hosted a panel on the subject during our Breakthrough event in February.
As we collect more data on the situation, we hope that it will bring more attention to the problem. With hospitals and health systems across the state already fighting to retain and recruit staff, fear of violence in the workplace is an added burden for everyone on the healthcare team.
Recently Lisa Glass, a patient care assistant from Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, Grand Rapids, testified before the House Judiciary Committee in support of House Bills (HBs) 4327 and 4328 that would increase penalties for assaulting healthcare workers, in addition to reclassifying such crimes from misdemeanors to felonies. Such bills would reinforce the measures hospitals are currently using to keep workers safe on the job. Having such protections in place would help to prevent repeat violent offenders from harming not only staff members, but other vulnerable patients as well.
Lisa shared her personal experience as the victim of on-the-job violence, highlighting the obligation that we all share to protect those who come to work to heal others every day. As Lisa said, “Violence is not in my job description,” and it should no longer be an accepted part of a healthcare career. Hospitals should not elicit emotions of fear, but rather hope. This Hospital Week, let us be reminded of our obligation to protect the physical and psychological safety of all who walk through the doors of our hospitals, including both patients and employees.
And let us also be reminded that, as is the case with all significant challenges in our field, we will be more successful if we take this journey together.
As always, I welcome your thoughts.
Posted in: MHA Rounds