We All Want to Be Safe

Premier Pulse     February 2023

Kanagy_HS_350x350By Scott Kanagy, DO, chief medical officer, Upper Valley Medical Center

If you search on the web for violence within a health care setting, the number of events that come up is startling. These events are widespread and numerous. Unfortunately, Premier Health hospitals are not strangers to this violence. The past few years and the pandemic have increased the likelihood of violence in society, especially in the hospital setting. Every site within Premier Health has experienced this. Yet we continue to carry on our vision to “Inspire Better Health.”

We have experienced several situations recently at multiple sites within Premier Health with injury and, in rare cases, loss of life. Working in health care is a scary thing to do in this time and age. Not only for us as caregivers but also for our families. However, working in health care is a calling only certain people answer.

I’ve asked in past chief medical officer articles whether we really know everyone on our team who contributes to the care of our patients every day. In this article, I am referring to the public safety officers who walk our campuses 24/7 and keep us safe. I know we acknowledge them when we have high-profile events, which we have encountered recently at multiple facilities. However, on a day-to-day basis, do we acknowledge them for all the events they de-escalated that could have escalated into more serious events? Have we asked ourselves and educated ourselves on de-escalating techniques to partner with them so situations do not become worse?

Things to consider when de-escalating an event:

  • Recognize and assess the situation. Your safety is paramount.
  • Respond calmly. Humans tend to mimic each other's behavior, so don't respond with anger, sarcasm, or inflexibility.
  • Listen with empathy.
  • Validate and show respect.

The steps listed above are ways we can learn to help with the challenges we encounter. Please take the time to get to know the security specialists who keep us safe every day and allow us to provide the great care we provide to our communities. Discuss with them and ask how you can better partner with them to keep us all safe.

Remember, some individuals who commit violent acts suffer from illness, and we must do all we can to avoid any events that may cause escalation. Unfortunately, some will escalate to violence and when they do, I am thankful for all the security specialists at Premier Health. I want to thank all the brave women and men who walk our halls daily, keeping us safe and willing to serve beside us. We owe a great gratitude to every one of you.

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