Summer Fall 2017

12 » A magazine for and about Oregon Community Hospitals. TAKING ON WORKPLACE VIOLENCE AND INJURIES OAHHS initiative helps hospitals improve safe patient handling and prevent violence By Jon Bell Things were different when Elaine LaRochelle started working at Grand Ronde Hospital in La Grande some 17 years ago. Back then, employees and patients didn’t have to worry about their belongings being stolen. The drug and alcohol problems that seem to have reached troubling levels were much fewer and farther between. The hospital never even had to lock its doors. “We just didn’t have those kinds of issues,” said LaRochelle, director of facilities for the critical access hospital. “When I started, we didn’t even lock our doors. It used to be that I had to worry about the heating and cooling running right. Now, security’s a big part of my day.” Grand Ronde isn’t alone in facing an increase in workplace violence and security issues. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, between 2002 and 2013, incidents of serious workplace violence in the U.S. were four times more common in healthcare than in private industry. Looking to help make Oregon hospitals safer and more secure, while also working to reduce injuries due not only to violence, but also to patient handling, the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems launched the Workplace Safety Initiative (WSI) in September 2014. The collaborative, which also included participants from the Service Employees International Union and the Oregon Nurses Association, aimed to develop evidence-based programs that could help reduce injuries related to both workplace violence and patient handling. The early work of that collaborative has wrapped up, and already, hospitals around the state have seen some promising improvements. “I think it was very much worthwhile,” said Perrilyn Wells, safety and security supervisor at Harney District Hospital in Burns, Oregon. “If they had not come and offered this to us, I think we would have still kind of been in the dark ages. It’s been a really good experience for all of us.”