As the Director of Trauma Services here at BHCHP, Sam is busy developing best practices for our staff in trauma-informed patient care. Sam also creates self-care tools and internal infrastructures for staff to manage stress, increase resiliency, and grow professionally. Many of our patients have suffered a disproportionate amount of trauma in their lives–homelessness in itself is traumatizing—and a significant focus of Sam’s work supports both patient and staff wellness.
Sam says that one of the main reasons she loves working here at BHCHP is the value BHCHP leadership puts on staff’s wellbeing, “There’s a respect for self-care and work-life balance that’s really unique,” Sam said.
“When you work in health care generally and with our patients specifically, and you hear their stories, its highly probably for staff possible to experience a form of vicarious trauma. Senior leadership here at BHCHP understands that, and so one of my roles is to support staff wellness” said Sam, who joined BHCHP in August 2019. “We’ve created recharge spaces, where staff can go to have a moment to ground and center themselves before returning to work. I lead wellness challenges, too, to encourage staff to take care of themselves.” Sam describes the program’s meditation challenge to the staff that included a one-year subscription for every employee to a wellness app. The program provides therapeutic staff support as well, “I’m also the liaison with two trauma and resiliency therapists who work with staff who are struggling, be it vicarious trauma or, other times, something traumatic in their own lives.”
The program also stresses supporting staff with strong mentorship from seasoned leaders to help employees through new or complicated experiences. A professional development fund and access to student loan repayment opportunities give employees the opportunity to promote professional growth.
“Our agency is very thoughtful about how to support staff and their families. During the early days of COVID, we created a fund for people who were struggling. Maybe their husband was laid off or a loved one died, or they couldn’t pay the rent. How many organizations would do that? It’s just some of the ways the organization makes sure you’re supported and have the tools you need to be successful.”
One of her favorite things about working for BHCHP is the organizational encouragement for each staff member to have a creative problem-solver mindset. With the rich diverseness of the BHCHP staff, “BHCHP is made up of people of all disciplines with all different levels of education and life experiences,” Sam said. This diversity gives the program a wide range of perspectives and knowledge to be problem solvers.
“Women who sleep outside suffer from a huge burden of trauma, sexual assault, and violence,” Sam explained. “So, a colleague and I created ‘Women’s Only Wednesday’ at the city’s Engagement Center, near where many of them live. It’s a safe and supportive space for women to get not only their medical needs met, but also their case management and behavioral health needs, all in one place. I appreciate that we were encouraged and supported by leadership to develop a program to meet the needs we were seeing in the community.”
That initiative, she said, typifies why BHCHP employees feel supported and appreciated.
“What’s unique about the organization is that every voice carries the same weight, whether you’re a case manager, a doctor, a nurse practitioner, a harm-reduction specialist or a social worker. Everyone gets listened to and can easily share ideas and provide feedback in ways I haven’t experienced in other places I’ve worked, especially in medical settings. It makes for a really collaborative place to work.”