To ensure they have the tools and skills to respond to events that distress staff, charge nurses at Centegra Health System received critical incident defusing training Aug. 23. This training will help nurse supervisors provide real-time support and guidance to nurses who have seen trauma or who have been assaulted by patients.
Despina McBride, clinical supervisor for the McHenry County Crisis Program, said the training is especially important for charge nurses in Centegra’s emergency departments and behavioral health units. McBride teaches the training with Megan Peace, a crisis worker with the McHenry County Crisis Program, which is administered by Centegra Health System and funded by the McHenry County Mental Health Board.
“Sixty percent of workplace assaults occur in health care settings, and most of those are committed by patients,” McBride said. “Emergency department nurses are more than 40 times more likely to report that they had been assaulted compared to nurses in other units, and health care employees are often negatively impacted after these events occur.”
A group of nurses received this training in December, and leaders at Centegra Health System wanted to provide this educational opportunity again to staff because evidence has shown that training in critical incident stress defusing encourages the health and growth of associates. The training should help leaders prevent what is known in health care as the “second victim.”
According to a study cited in a 2011 article in Nursing Economics, 67 percent of emergency department nurses, 63 percent of patient care assistants and 51 percent of physicians had been assaulted at least once in the previous six months.
“We developed this training because health care workers can be the second victims when they witness trauma or are assaulted by patients who are mentally ill or under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” said Sheila Senn, vice president and site administrator at Centegra Hospital-Woodstock and Centegra Specialty Hospital-Woodstock. “Crisis workers are available at all times to every Centegra associate, however this training offers nurse leaders in high-risk areas the opportunity to better support their team members during and after stressful incidents.”
McBride said defusings are different from debriefings in that they typically occur within hours of an event rather than a day or two later. The steps of defusings are shorter than those involved in debriefings, as well.
The trainings do not replace actual defusing and debriefing certifications, which are obtained by crisis workers at the McHenry County Crisis Program. The certified professionals may be called upon to assist Centegra Associates at any time they need support. Still, McBride said that Associates who attend the training show their desire to support their colleagues after difficult or frightening incidents.
“Centegra’s associates, physicians and volunteers give so much of themselves to care for the community,” McBride said. “At times, we have to take steps to ensure their mental health is protected. Health care workers can’t always avoid seeing or experiencing traumatic incidents, however we can always improve the ways we help them respond in these times.”
McHenry County Crisis Line may be reached by calling (800) 892-8900.
Centegra Health System is committed to meeting the health care needs of the residents of greater McHenry County and to making services available in multiple and convenient locations, including hospitals in McHenry and Woodstock, Immediate and Physician Care Centers, Centegra Sage Cancer Center, Health Bridge Fitness Centers and more. As the region’s leading health care provider, Centegra Health System continues to bring the latest treatments and technology, along with the skills of nearly 4,000 medical professionals, to meet the needs of the growing McHenry County community. For more information on Centegra Health System visit Facebook and Twitter or call 877-CENTEGRA (877-236-8347).