Vermont hospitals enhance care with trauma training programs

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NEWPORT — In a concerted effort to improve patient care, Vermont hospitals are significantly benefiting from Trauma Responsive Care Trainings, an initiative organized by the Vermont Program for Quality in Health Care (VPQHC) in collaboration with the Department of Mental Health. Throughout 2023, 122 hospital staff underwent the training, designed to increase empathy and responsiveness in patient interactions.

The training team, consisting of Kristy Hommel, M.Ed; Matt Dove, NP, DUAL PMHNP, FNP Certified; and Peter Cudney, LICSW, has been praised for their dynamic approach. Participants of the program reported a heightened awareness and practice in patient advocacy and sensitivity. “I’ve learned to listen to the patients more and really advocate for the patient,” remarked a chief nursing officer who attended the training.

Others noted the importance of small gestures in healthcare settings. “It’s not the big things, it’s the little things. It is being reminded of human connection and that little comfort measures are important,” said the Director of Emergency Services.

The program not only addresses current practices but also explores potential improvements. “We could do so much better. While I understand why we have a policy and practice around some of those things, there are ways that we could adapt it to be certainly more patient-friendly, supportive, understanding,” an emergency department nurse explained.

The initiative has received not only statewide support but also inspiration and guidance from Dr. Christian Pulcini and Dr. Haley McGowan of the UVMMC Emergency Department team, with evaluation assistance from the Center for Behavioral Health Integration, LLC. The VPQHC provides further resources on its website, including training slides and a Trauma Responsive Care Toolkit, to help implement these strategies in hospital settings.

Continuing into 2024, more hospital staff across Vermont are expected to benefit from these trainings, enhancing the overall quality of healthcare through more trauma-informed care practices.

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