A Small Rural Hospital Makes Big Changes for their Workforce:
Knox Community Hospital

Suicide Prevention Health Care Workforce Guide In Action A Small Rural Hospital Makes Big Changes for their Workforce: Knox Community Hospital 
Mitigating The Effects Of Job-Related Stressors 

Knox Community Hospital, located in Ohio, is a small rural community hospital. They are one of the top three employers in Knox County and currently have approximately 1,400 employees. Through their work with the AHA Suicide Prevention in the Healthcare Workforce Collaborative they addressed job-related stressors. Knox Community Hospital chose three avenues in which to address these stressors, including debriefing sentinel events, providing employee education and increasing awareness of employee resources.

Following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, much like many hospitals across the country, Knox reported seeing an increase in stress and burnout among staff. Employees were reporting feeling a lack of support that was exacerbated by chronic short staffing. The team at Knox wanted to provide their staff with the tools they need to handle difficult situations at work and foster a more positive attitude. One part of their project with the collaborative was focused on employee education. They were able to partner with the Knox County Mental Health and Recovery Board, who wrote many training courses for the hospital for free. The hope is that 60% of their employees complete at least one training course by the end of 2023. Some of the trainings they are offering include Mental Health First Aid; Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR); stress management; and Triple P – a positive parenting class. During their June Safety Fair, the team at Knox provided staff education on the 988 Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Another goal of their project was to increase awareness of employee resources that are already available to their workforce. The team focused on advertising and sharing the resources integrated in their EAP, including a free crisis coaching call line. Through employee surveys, they learned that much of their workforce was unaware of the programs already offered. Leveraging and increasing awareness of these programs was a very cost-effective way to increase employee support and access.

One obstacle that Knox Community Hospital experienced was low general interest in the activities they were offering to staff. They wanted to generate interest and subsequently increase staff participation in mental health activities across the board. One way that they addressed this barrier was by using rewards. They began offering incentives like continuing education credits and snacks to help facilitate interest. These rewards may help bring employees in, but they hoped that after participating interest in the programs would grow organically. Knox has also heavily been pushing their training to leadership within their organization. As leaders complete training, they will be able to bring knowledge to their team and encourage team members to attend the training as well.

In the coming months, Knox Community Hospital will continue to increase awareness around their available well-being resources, provide opportunities for training and share feedback with staff on their efforts to encourage continued participation in their initiatives. They also plan to add suicide prevention training to all employee onboarding.