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April 1, 2022
Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health is working to make the community more trauma-informed
When it comes to health, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health knows that where a person lives, learns, works, and plays is a major influence on their well-being. Because of its commitment to advancing the health and well-being of our community, LG Health partners with organizations to raise awareness of the importance and value of being trauma-informed.
Trauma is any event, series of events, or set of circumstances that overwhelms a person’s capacity to cope, resulting in a lasting adverse effect on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being
Here is what it means to be trauma-informed:
- Realizing the widespread impact of trauma
- Recognizing signs and symptoms of trauma among clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system
- Responding by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into organizational policies, procedures, and practices, to emphasize physical, psychological, and emotional safety, choice, control, and empowerment for residents and staff
- Resisting re-traumatization
In November 2018, LG Health and members of Let’s Talk, Lancaster held the first community-wide mobilization meeting to build the framework for Lancaster County to become a more trauma-informed community.
Since that first meeting, more than 50 organizations from a variety of business sectors have partnered with LG Health in some capacity, from working groups to trainings to educational events. Currently, 25 local organizations are committed to becoming more trauma-informed, and LG Health is providing education, training, and technical support to these partnering organizations.
With LG Health’s help and resources, these organizations are training their entire staff about trauma and resilience, holding “Putting It Into Practice” sessions to brainstorm with staff about organizational policies and procedures that may be re-traumatizing for staff or residents, conducting a comprehensive Trauma Informed Organizational Assessment, and improving policies and procedures to align with guiding principles of trauma-informed care.
Lancaster County Children & Youth has already seen the impacts of LG Health’s partnership. Executive Director Crystal Natan said, “Trauma permeates the child welfare system. The children and families that we encounter on a daily basis experience chronic trauma in their life. Our partnership with LG Health has been crucial in our organization becoming trauma-informed and responsive. This effort has empowered us to be mindful and embark on purposeful practice changes to reduce trauma and be part of the healing process.”
LG Health partner HDC MidAtlantic is a nonprofit dedicated to providing quality affordable rental housing throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. The team has been working toward becoming a trauma-informed organization since 2019, including education of staff at all levels, reviewing eviction prevention policies and resident selection criteria, supporting staff wellness, and assessing the physical environment.
Another organization, Lancaster County Adult Probation & Parole, has led its entire staff through trauma-informed training. As a result, the organization has implemented peer supports and an agency chaplain for parole officers to help them process and address vicarious trauma that results from the nature of their jobs. The organization has also made changes to its policies and procedures, including its Vision, Mission, and Core Values statements to reflect its commitment to a trauma-informed approach.
In addition to these partner organizations, 38 behavioral health counselors are now trained in evidence-based clinical interventions, 1,300 educators are trained in the Trauma Sensitive Schools curriculum, and 20 criminal justice professionals are certified to teach their colleagues.
These are just a few examples of the important work being done throughout the Lancaster community, and your organization can get involved too. LG Health offers complete online trainings, as well as a monthly virtual education series. If you have questions or want more information on partnering, contact Mary LeVasseur Dorman, Health Promotion Specialist, at Mary.Dorman@pennmedicine.upenn.edu or Melanie G. Snyder, Trauma Informed Specialist, at Melanie.Snyder@pennmedicine.upenn.edu.