The Healthcare Workers’ Compensation Fund (HWCF), managed by Inspirien, is preparing to launch its eighth annual Grant Program. This program aims to reduce the number and severity of workers’ compensation claims while also improving the safety of employees and patients. This year, recipients collectively received over $94K in Grant dollars, bringing the total awarded to over $440K since the program started in 2017.

The HWCF Annual Grant Program has already had a significant impact on safety in the healthcare industry. Numerous members have utilized the grants to implement innovative safety measures, resulting in lower workplace injuries, increased employee satisfaction, and better patient outcomes. Check out the progress of our 2023 grant recipients’ projects. 

DCH/Northport Medical Center has launched a program called CAARES (Calming Agitation, Anxiety, and Restlessness and providing Emotional Support) to address employee injuries related to patients with mental health and addiction issues. They were prompted to take action after referring to an article published by ECRI that identified physical and verbal violence against healthcare staff as the number 2 patient safety concern in 2023. The CAARES project focuses on designated units catering to patients with medical and behavioral needs. The grant money will provide specialized training and education via enhanced SECURE classes, including scenario training, therapeutic verbal interactions, redirection, engagement, when to call for help, and teamwork. In addition, they have assembled ARKs (Agitation Reduction Kits) for pilot units as a diversion technique for patients experiencing agitation, anxiety, restlessness, and so on. The kits contain crayons, stress balls, stretch balls, washable markers, activity books, and play dough. The hospital has already reported success with the program. They shared a story of a patient who used a stress ball to calm down, thus avoiding any injuries to the staff or the patient having to be medicated or restrained.

Huntsville Hospital implemented AVERT (Active Violence Emergency Response Training) after recognizing the increasing incidents of workplace violence in healthcare, which resulted in injured employees. They found AVERT training through the Health & Safety Institute (HSI) and applied for the HWCF grant to help offset the project’s cost. HSI completed training onsite in a train-the-trainer format. A total of 29 trainers across eight hospitals in the system received the AVERT training, which also included “Stop the Bleeding” training. All respondents reported feeling better equipped to respond/react to an active assailant. Having designated trained staff at each location allows all employees to have someone who can take the lead in an active shooter situation. Some comments from trained staff include, “It provided confidence with how to handle these situations” and “It allows our facility to empower all our staff to defend and protect themselves and others.”

Jackson Hospital and Clinic has recently installed Guldmann Patient Ceiling Lifts and conducted training for their employees. Employees were injured from patient handling, and it became their primary concern. They used their grant award to address the issue by purchasing ceiling lifts for the ICU and post-op bariatric unit. These lift devices were installed earlier than expected, and the staff has been re-energized to report employee injuries in their RLDatix Safety Event Reporting system. The staff training has also begun, and they are looking forward to utilizing the new equipment to prevent staff injuries in the future.

Jackson Medical Center installed a new safety system to improve emergency response and staff safety. The system includes Wi-Fi Panic Lanyards and Fixed Wall Buttons equipped with software to alert designated personnel and 911 when activated. With the help of HIPS (Hyper-Accurate Indoor Positioning System), the emergency response team can identify the precise location of the activated panic button. The hospital placed fixed-wall panic buttons in patient registration offices, nurse stations, the emergency department, and outpatient areas. Wearable lanyard alert devices are available to the Emergency Department, Detox Department, Radiology, and Laboratory staff. The system went live on November 1, 2023, for all departments, and employees have expressed appreciation for the improved safety measures. 

Russell Medical Center installed a Repeater Radio System and Security Cameras to improve safety and communication within the facility. During a Hazard Vulnerability Analysis, the safety committee found that communication failure during a recent tornado event put staff and patients at risk. Unfortunately, due to the location of the hospital, radio coverage was insufficient, and security staff needed better radio access. With healthcare violence on the rise, communication is critical for staff safety. The new repeater radios enhance internal communication with police, fire, and local government officials. The hospital had several areas on campus not monitored by cameras, and incidents occurred in those areas. Thus, installing security cameras in these areas enhances the facility’s overall safety. All radios and cameras have been installed and are now in use. The staff reports that “the new additions have been a blessing to the facility and staff.”

The Healthcare Workers’ Compensation Fund is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all Alabama healthcare workers. By supporting initiatives that prioritize employee safety, HWCF ensures a resilient and sustainable healthcare workforce for the future. As healthcare organizations continue to face evolving challenges, proactive measures like these serve as a shining example of how a safer healthcare environment can be created for all.

Are you interested in applying? Risk Consultant Lisa Rawlings is hosting a series of webinars on January 5, 10, and 11 to prepare you and your team for participation in the program. Click the button below for more information on how to register for one of the informational webinars and to download the application.