Grande Ronde Uses Toolkit to Improve Staff Safety

When work began on tackling workplace violence at Oregon’s hospitals, Elaine LaRochelle knew the problem was serious at her facility.

“We had a lot of staff that were afraid to come to work,” said LaRochelle, Director of Facilities at Grande Ronde Hospital. “We had a lot of turnover due to workplace violence directed at staff."

That was 2014. Today, the improvements are real, and the staff notices every day. “Our staff is glowing. They feel safe. They know we’ve listened, they see the changes we’ve made,” said LaRochelle.

Grande Ronde is one of five Oregon hospitals that came together with subject matter expert Lynda Enos and the Oregon Association of Hospitals & Health Systems to create the Workplace Violence Prevention toolkit. Published in 2018, the toolkit combines approaches that have been shown to work from each facility. The idea is that the pieces can be sized up or down to fit the needs of that hospital.

According to LaRochelle, a self-assessment showed a clear need for more lobby security at Grande Ronde. That’s now in place, utilizing a badge system, intercom, phones with visual ID capability, and gates with automatic locking after visitor hours. There is now security personnel on night and weekend duty, and the doors are locked. Also, “staff has more protocols in ways to look at patients when they come in and questions to ask, so that they can assess risk,” she said.

The toolkit has 10 chapters and 30 tools that hospitals can take and implement themselves. “There’s nothing like it in the country,” said Katie Harris, Director of Rural Health and Federal Issues at OAHHS. “It’s very comprehensive, but it’s also very instructional. We didn’t want hospitals to have to hire a consultant to do this work.”

This is a resource that will help Oregon’s hospitals take better care of both patients and staff, in part because the employees appreciate the positive changes. “It’s improved our staff morale,” said LaRochelle, “which lets us give better patient care.”

The Workplace Violence Prevention toolkit can be found here: oahhs.org/safety.