For the second year in a row, WellSpan Health was awarded the prestigious Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) award, this time for the regional health system's innovative efforts to prevent workplace violence and improve hospital safety by de-escalating behavioral emergencies .
WellSpan's Behavioral Emergency Response Team (BERT) was recognized with the 2020 Optimal Operations Award, one of 12 HAP Achievement Award winners across Pennsylvania. In 2019 WellSpan Health won the prestigious Living the Vision Award for its innovative approach to tackling the housing insecurity of its most vulnerable patients.
This year, WellSpan's BERT initiative was selected from 131 submissions for HAP's 2020 Achievement Awards. The program includes developing and training a dedicated quick response team to de-escalate behavioral health situations with the goal of preventing violence and injury to patients, visitors and staff.
"This nursing-led initiative was aimed at finding a better way to de-escalate high-risk situations through creative methods from a multidisciplinary team of support professionals," said Michael Seim, senior vice president and chief quality officer, WellSpan Health. "This award is an example of WellSpan Health's spirit of innovation and the efforts of these teams in hospitals in our healthcare system to redefine the way we care for our patients while keeping everyone safe."
The BERT team in each hospital usually consists of nursing directors, intensive care nurses, behavioral nurses, and safety officers. Everyone has a role to play in responding to an incident. Supervisors perform verbal de-escalation, the critical care nurses help with medical issues, behavioral nurses provide medication and behavioral medicine recommendations, and safety helps with physical support and policy enforcement.
The initiative is part of WellSpan’s commitment to providing trauma-informed care, a more holistic approach to behavioral disorder management that focuses on the individual's underlying mental health and any previous trauma history.
Almost 700 BERT calls have been documented in WellSpan hospitals since the beginning of 2019, around 75 percent of which were successfully de-escalated.
"Given the extraordinary challenges COVID-19 has posed to the Pennsylvania hospital community, we are excited to honor the recipients of the 2020 HAP Achievement Awards," said Andy Carter, President and Chief Executive Officer of HAP. “These outstanding projects demonstrate the relentless commitment to excellence that the Pennsylvania hospital community embodies every day. We congratulate the winners on their achievements. "
The BERT concept was introduced in 2018 at WellSpan York Hospital and WellSpan Surgery and Rehabilitation Hospital. Since then, the program has expanded to include WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital in Lebanon, WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital and WellSpan Philhaven Hospital in Lancaster County. WellSpan expects all WellSpan hospitals to have a BERT program by the end of 2021.
"Thanks to the implementation of BERT, our carers have shown increased confidence in dealing with potentially disruptive or threatening behavior," said Jennifer Higgins, BERT Program Coordinator. "The program supported the notion that no one should ever feel unsafe in a WellSpan Health facility."
For more information about BERT and how WellSpan is committed to patient safety, please visit www.WellSpan.org/Quality. More information about the 2020 HAP Awards can be found at https://www.haponline.org/Quality-Safety/Making-Excellent-Better/Achievement-Awards.
WellSpan Health is an integrated health system that serves communities in central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. The organization comprises a clinically integrated network of approximately 2,600 doctors and advanced practice providers (APPs), including more than 1,600 salaried doctors and APPs. a regional behavioral health organization; a home care organization; eight prestigious hospitals; approximately 20,000 employees; and more than 200 locations for patient care. WellSpan is a non-profit, mission-oriented organization committed to exceptional care for all, lifelong well-being and healthy communities. Visit WellSpan.org.