Compassionate care, high performance not limited to clinicians

The janitor at a hospital doesn't just take out the trash; he prevents infections. That was the message that Michael Frisina, head of the consulting firm The Center for Influential Leadership, had for the hospital employee who eventually won an honor by the new head of environmental services, according to a column in Hospitals & Health Networks. It's that kind of cultural change in thinking on the part of hospital leaders that could inspire staff and pave the way for high performance and compassionate care, according to the article.

Too often, hospital staff face challenges and go to work hanging their head, but it's up to the leaders to change that environment, H&HN noted.

For example, Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis created a training program, dedicated to fighting the problem of compassion fatigue--a phenomena in which traumatic stress and burnout can make caregivers rude and cynical, impair the caregiver-patient relationship and lead providers to dread caring for patients. Symptoms of compassion fatigue can be physical (e.g., feeling exhausted), psychological (feeling numb), emotional (being irritable) or professional (wanting to quit), Teresa L. Deshields, a licensed clinical psychologist and the manager of Psycho-Oncology Services for the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, wrote in a Hospital Impact blog post.

The Compassion Fatigue Resiliency Program, first launched on the oncology floors and the emergency department, is a one-day workshop that includes education on compassion fatigue, instruction on how to regulate it and self-care strategies, and discussions of personal missions.

"The managers were concerned about what they perceived as sagging morale among their staff," Deshields wrote. "From an organizational perspective, the program aims to increase staff engagement, reduce turnover and increase patient satisfaction. From a staff perspective, the goal is compassion satisfaction, or the ability to derive meaning and satisfaction from your work."

Barnes-Jewish Hospital then opened up the program to all hospital employees, not limited to clinicians. It's "a recognition that even if employees are not giving direct clinical care or treatment, they still may be involved in caring for the hospital's patients, and are vulnerable, too, to the cost of caring," she wrote.

For more information:
- read the H&HN column
- see the Hospital Impact blog post

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