AlGene P. Caraulia: New Book Helps Health Care Organizations Create Safer Environments

Recently, the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) released the Workplace Violence Prevention Handbook, which is designed to help health care organizations create safer environments for workers, patients and visitors. This book is a free digital copy that provides easy-to-use guidance to help health care professionals boost their commitment to reducing workplace violence.

DocWire News spoke to AlGene P. Caraulia, Vice President of Integration and Sustainability at CPI, about the impact of workplace violence, and how the handbook can help.

DocWire News: Can you provide us with some professional background on yourself, and your role with the Crisis Prevention Institute?

AlGene P. Caraulia: As Vice President of integration and sustainability here at CPI, my role is to work with our healthcare partners to ensure that when we go in, we’re really helping to integrate our content into their culture. And at the same time, we want to make sure that we’re influencing the culture in a very positive and sustainable way, and that’s really my focal point. CPI is a international organization. We provide training across the globe in the management of aggressive, distressed behavior, and in a variety of sectors, healthcare being one of our primary focal points. The effort that we go through here really is focused in on how can we prevent a crisis from escalating to the point where it becomes verbally or even physically violent. And as such, we look at what are the different things that we can do, that we can own as professionals that can really help to engage those persons in crisis and try to deescalate or diffuse those situations.

Of course, at the same time, we also know that there are going to be those conditions in which someone does become physically violent, and we have to make sure that the staff members are equipped with the tools necessary to not only keep themselves safe, but also to keep this person in crisis safe. As healthcare professionals, we all have a responsibility to make sure that we’re providing that duty to care, and as such, what we teach is not self-defense. It’s really focused on keeping everyone safe or providing what we call care welfare, safe and security for all in that environment. For me personally, I’ve been with CPI… Right now, I’ll be entering my 15th year with CPI. I was a professional instructor back in the eighties, and then I rejoined CPI after about 20 years absent from the company, working in healthcare, working in law enforcement. I worked in consulting and education. So, I’ve had a wide and varied background, which really has benefited me on my return.

And quite frankly, I’ve been around this content for pretty much my entire life in that the program itself was designed by another guy named AlGene Caraulia, who happened to be my father, and he’s also one of the founders of CPI back in 1980.

How big a problem is workplace violence in health care?

Well, I think that everyone recognizes that it’s a significant issue, and that recognition has been there. We’re hearing more and more about it in the media, but the reality is that we’ve known that workplace violence in healthcare has been an issue for more than 40 years. That was really one of the impetus for CPIs Nonviolent Crisis Intervention to be created. It’s become more and more of a visible issue. In some recent surveys. I know that, for example, 90% of respondents to a recent survey hospital IQ have really these respondents considering leaving the nursing profession. And consider that these are professionals, these are people who have been called to become healthcare professionals, and now they’re considering leaving that profession because of workplace violence. We know that there is a likelihood within the healthcare arena, a 4X likelihood that you can be a victim of violence in the workplace as a healthcare professional.

That’s four times more than every other profession, including law enforcement. So, I mean, it is a significant issue. And in the old days, it used to be the mindset of grow thick skin. This goes with the territory. If you can’t handle it, find another profession. But I think the people are finally realizing that there’s no reason why I should go to work afraid. There’s no reason why I should go to work expecting to be assaulted, or thinking that that just goes with the job and it is certainly a significant issue. We’ve even seen legislation being passed, whether at the state level, or even in the federal level. HR bill 7961 really speaks specifically to the need to address not only the issue around workplace violence and penalties that would go along with it, but they’re also looking at significant funding to help provide and help to create a safer environment for healthcare professionals.

Talk to us about the Workplace Violence Prevention Handbook, and how it can help health care organizations?

Yeah, we’re really proud about the handbook. And the reason why it’s so important, we think, is that, first of all, we know that it’s the right thing to do. From CPIs perspective, we worked with our current healthcare partners in creation of the handbook itself to really help understand what are all the dynamics and all the elements that are necessary to create a successful workplace violence prevention program within the healthcare arena. The reality is this is a complex issue. It’s a complex problem that is not restricted strictly to security or behavioral health or the emergency department. Workplace violence, or I should say violence within the healthcare arena is happening across the board. It doesn’t matter whether you are working in a high risk area like the behavioral health unit or med surge, or even a physician practice. We’re seeing violent behavior, verbal as well as physical, taking place on a regular basis, and the staff members are asking for a help.

CPI has been able to provide this help through our training over the past 40 plus years, but we also recognize that the training element is a small, is a sliver. It’s a segment of the overall picture, and that was really the impetus for creating the Workplace Violence Prevention Handbook. What’s really interesting about this is because it was written by healthcare professionals and their experiences and how they were able to create successful workplace violence prevention programs, it really… It’s not just made up stuff or theoretical approaches. These are actual approaches that were being utilized by these healthcare professionals, and I think that that’s a really exciting opportunity. It’s really set up as a reference or as a Sherpa, if you will, because every organization has or is in a different space with regard to their maturity of their workplace violence prevention program. CPI can help in identifying where you are in that maturity index.

Concurrently, what we will do, and this book is really meant to do, is help identify, where we do we want to go to, and how do we get there. What are some of the things that we can start to put into place now and in the future to create a safer environment for our staff, and ultimately for the patients and families we serve.

Are there any current CPI initiatives you’d like to highlight for our audience?

I think that because of the issues around workplace violence within the healthcare arena, this has really been a major focal point for CPI. Again, it’s the right thing to do. It’s responding to a real and genuine need out in the marketplace. As such, CPI has really ramped up not only the solutions that are available for the healthcare arena, but we’ve really created a great deal of flexibility to meet the specific needs of organizations, again, based on where they are and what their goals are going to be. At the end of the day, whether it comes down to mapping risk for every employee within the organization or providing the professional services that assist with the implementation and integration into the organization, all the way down to even designing who should be trained when, what does that look like in which room, which department is being trained, those are all the kind of services that CPI is really focusing their energies on so that we can be that partner with the healthcare organizations now and well into the future.