Kathleen Neher and Joseph Swygart, Lindner Center of HOPE admission staff for the Sibcy House and Williams House were recognized this month as nominees for the 2015 Richard M. Smith Patient Safety Award.
Neher and Swygart deal with a high volume of patient, family and referrer calls on a daily basis. Safety comes into play in their roles, as they need to be acutely alert to what the caller is saying regarding the patient’s safety and/or their own safety as these families are facing complex mental health and or addictions issues. Given that some callers are across the country or even outside of the country, the challenging nature of managing what could be escalating psychiatric and addictions issues becomes even more complex.
On February 4, 2015, a patient called the admissions office for the diagnostic and short-term intensive treatment programs at Lindner Center of HOPE, crying and saying that she had just attempted suicide and needed help. She said she had mixed medication and alcohol and had a plan in place to end her life. Swygart remained on the line with the patient while Neher called the patient’s local police department and notified them of the suicide attempt. Neher also contacted the patient’s husband at work and left him a voicemail informing him of the event and letting him know that the police had been called. The patient asked several times if she could hang up and proceed with her plan. Swygart encouraged her to stay on the line with him and to wait until emergency personnel arrived. Though the patient denied that she was attempting suicide, one police officer got on the phone and asked Swygart to clarify the situation. After the discussion, officers took the patient into custody and hung up the phone. The patient’s husband called the admissions office soon after and left a voicemail thanking both staff members for calling the police and informed them that patient had been admitted to a psychiatric inpatient unit.
Their safety-minded actions and quick response truly saved a person’s life that day, truly making them deserving of this patient safety award.