For the Jewish doctors and nurses at Allegheny General Hospital, the fact that their patient was accused of mass murder at a nearby Pittsburgh synagogue did not alter their treatment.
That he continued to spew anti-Semitic vitriol did not change the care they rendered. Neither did the fact that among his victims were their family, friends, or neighbors.
“We’re here to take care of sick people. We’re not here to judge you,” said Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, the hospital’s president and a member of the synagogue. “We’re here to take care of people that need our help.”
Cohen’s sentiment reflects a core tenet of those who choose health care professions – we work to heal, period.
That’s a special quality among those who dedicate their lives to the care of others. As hospital and health system leaders, we have a duty to make workplaces as safe as we can and to promote resilience in the face of traumatic events that do occur.
Equally important is that hospitals help make the communities they serve safer, so these horrors become things of the past.
Your Maryland Hospital Association is acting on both fronts to help.
First, the Behavioral Health Task Force is leading the charge to consider how Maryland’s hospitals could address the many behavioral health challenges in the state.
MHA also remains committed to the American Hospital Association’s Hospitals Against Violence program, which aims to stem all forms of violence, both within and outside of health care settings.
In June, MHA and the Maryland Nurses Association (MNA) hosted Safe Harbors: Protecting Providers and Patients, where national experts on violence prevention and response spoke to several hundred clinicians and administrators who work in hospitals.
MHA and MNA also are establishing a steering committee that we expect will produce actionable measures to enhance workplace safety.
Ensuring that hospital staff build resilience also matters. Our affiliate, the Maryland Patient Safety Center, runs the Caring for the Caregiver program. It offers resources to deliver “psychological first aid” and emotional support to caregivers who may experience trauma in the aftermath of a tragedy.
As Pittsburgh and its Jewish community – and the victims of the much-less-noticed shooting of African-Americans in Louisville – move through grieving to healing, we support them. And we will continue to strengthen support for our sisters and brothers in the Maryland health care community.