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29 Apr 2018

Salem Health’s new Peer Support Team begins

By: Pam Cortez and Ellen Hampton, Peer Support Team co-captains

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Salem Health is proud to announce a new peer support program for physicians and Salem Health staff starting on May 1. We created the team in response to a phenomenon known as “second victim.” Work grew out of months of collaboration and study across several disciplines.

If you’re experiencing distress in reaction to a stressful event from your practice, you could very likely be a second victim. The new Salem Health Peer Support Team is available 24/7 to help. 

When a provider survey conducted by Salem Health showed that 50 percent of our physicians experience “brown out” — which is the stage before the severe burn-out stage — Salem Health went to work and put a plan to fight back into the current Physician Engagement A3.

How did we create the team?

Physicians and staff listed below began working over a year ago to create a program geared toward Salem Health providers and staff, after reviewing curriculum developed by the University of Missouri Health Care.

What is a “second victim?”

A second victim is a health care team member involved in an unanticipated stressful situation or patient-related event and has become hurt or traumatized by that event.

They often feel personally responsible for the patient outcome, that they’ve “failed” the patient or second-guess their clinical knowledge.

Symptoms “second victims” experience

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Muscle tension
  • Isolation
  • Frustration
  • Fear
  • Grief and remorse
  • Uncomfortable returning to work
  • Anger and irritability
  • Depression
  • Extreme sadness
  • Self-doubt
  • Flashbacks

Who’s on the team?

Volunteer peer supporters just finished training and include physicians, nurses and other engaged staff trained in crisis support and stress management. They provide a confidential “safe zone” with personal support and guidance. There is one medical staff member and one staff member on call each day. Medical staff peer supporters are physicians Webb Wilson, Dan Costa, Rob Harder, Maurice Collada, Matt Boles, Josh Walterscheid, Rick Collins, Jerry Hubbard, David Elmgren, Charles McGee and James Goeke.

The service is free, confidential and available 24/7. Call 503-814-PEER (7337).

Thanks to the following for guidance:

Team captains are Pam Cortez, director of Patient Safety and Clinical Support, and Ellen Hampton, director of Corporate Integrity, Safety and Risk. Physician champions are Joe Stalfire, MD; Jennifer Williams, MD; and Andy Furman, MD, former Vice President/Medical Affairs. (Please note, they are not part of the Peer Support Team.)

Staff champions include Ken Morse, Spiritual Care supervisor; Amanda Griffith, CVCU assistant nurse manager; Cheeri Barnhart, CVCU nurse manager; Melissa Shortt, clinical nurse instructor; Hong Lee, medical ethicist; Jon Deming, Peer Review/Clinical Support manager; Sarah Horn, chief nursing officer; Michelle Hirschkorn, clinical nurse specialist; and Kristy McIntosh, Accreditation and Patient Safety manager.