Violence continues to be a pervasive problem in our society and directly affects the health and well-being of millions of individuals, families and communities. Nationally, we experience violence in many forms – mass shootings, human trafficking, physical and sexual assault, threatening behavior and more. This past year we witnessed peaceful protests, but also violence related to racial and social injustice and political differences. In the midst of grief and fear, hospitals and health systems remain committed to putting an end to violence of all kinds.
Our hospitals and health systems are not immune to violence, but they have made great efforts to curb it. June 4 marks the AHA’s fifth annual #HAVhope Friday – a day of awareness highlighting how America’s hospitals and health systems combat violence in their workplaces and communities. Developing local and national partnerships focused on prevention, offering education and programs to identify and care for victims of violence, and implementing processes to provide a safe, healing environment for patients and health care teams are just a few strategies used to combat violence within health care settings.
In my own organization, Advocate Aurora Health, we have developed a system approach closely linked with our patient safety efforts and framework to improve safety and decrease violence in the workplace. Each hospital site has a designated team – an approach that engages the front line, as well as site experts, to identify trends, priority areas and solutions. Our efforts don’t stop at our doorstep. Robust community programs and partnerships exist to address human trafficking and physical and sexual assault.
We are all in this together. The AHA has developed a digital toolkit with resources to assist in sharing what you and your hospital or health system are doing to address the issue of violence. Don’t forget to use #HAVhope within your social media communications. It’s so important to shine a light on this vital issue and share best practices nationally to accelerate our efforts in combating violence in all health care settings and communities.
Hospitals and health systems are places of healing and the backbone of many communities. Working in concert and solidarity, we can forge a path for all to have hope.
Mary Beth Kingston, Ph.D., R.N., is chief nurse officer at Advocate Aurora Health in Milwaukee, Wis., and Downers Grove, Ill., and is an AHA Board member. She also serves as chair on the AHA’s Hospitals Against Violence advisory group.