The groups who needed advocacy were the entire team in the Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit (STICU) at the UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, our patients, and their families. Our hospital is a Level 1 Trauma Center and we continue to see an increase in patients with violent-related injuries. Often times, patients who arrive to the STICU are unable to speak for themselves and there is uncertainty around the circumstances of their injuries. Prior to February 2019, the STICU was an open unit with unrestricted access. Being a Charge Nurse during the night, Kimberly was exposed to situations in which she and her colleagues felt unsafe. Patients and their families spoke up and were extremely concerned that anyone could come and go as they pleased. There was nothing stopping someone who already committed a violent act against one of our patients from entering our unit and causing further harm.
Kimberly strongly advocated for everyone's safety. She effectively partnered with our security team, law enforcement, and our hospital supervisor for assistance. Thinking about a more permanent solution, Kimberly performed an advanced literature review, encouraged everyone to complete safety reports for both near misses and actual workplace violence, and gathered data on how often we were contacting security for assistance.
The outcome of Kimberly's advocacy resulted in a restricted access unit with a standard check-in process. Kimberly also partnered with leaders across the hospital to establish a new process for assigning an alias name to all patients who are involved in violent trauma throughout our hospital. This new process for assigning an alias to patients involved in violent trauma has been so successful, it is being considered for system-wide adoption. We now have a workplace violence committee and report each case of workplace violence daily at our hospital-wide safety huddle.
Kimberly has provided extensive education to staff across the hospital and created educational materials for patients and their families about this process easily accessed by our team. Quotes from STICU healthcare professional's post-intervention included:
"It feels that security is becoming a priority at UCH"
"I feel we are improving our process for violence against nurses"
"I feel much safer with the security changes being made on the unit"
We are truly fortunate to work with such a driven and passionate person. Kimberly exemplifies advocacy each day for all who surround her and I am so thankful that she took the initiative to create meaningful, lasting change in our hospital.