Citywide training teaches employees to deal compassionately with the trauma of their patients, customers

SAN ANTONIO – In the wake of a tragic event like the shooting at Robb Elementary that claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers, it is more important than ever for people to understand the trauma.

“With the situation in Uvalde, it’s an extreme situation. But we have trauma every day in every family in the United States: violence between their parents, single parents with their children, children exposed to substance abuse, children who are bullied in their schools,” said Dr Ramon Reyes of Medical Village.

Village Medical has three primary care clinics in San Antonio, and every staff member, from receptionists to physicians, is currently trained in trauma-informed care. It means recognizing that trauma is universal and treating patients and staff with compassion.

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“I think that’s really important because you never know, especially mentally, what a person is going through,” Village Medical patient Lemarcus Watkins said.

Watkins is a veteran with PTSD, and he said he was happy to hear about the trauma-informed care training.

“Sometimes it can be just reading their behavior. Do they look upset? And if they look upset, you just ask, ‘Are you okay? Can I do something for you? You don’t want to ignore,” said Belinda Garcia-Rattenbury, who leads the University Institute of Health for Trauma-Informed Care.

The institute is the entity providing all the training, and Garcia-Rattenbury hopes companies of all types will sign up.

Village Medical has brought in a social worker for each clinic to help when mental health issues arise. They are even changing some of their rooms, making them less clinical and more comfortable for counseling or decompression.

“So that we’re comfortable talking to our patients about these difficult and traumatic experiences because people feel the stigma, they’re ashamed of it,” Dr. Reyes said.

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Addressing trauma is difficult, but Reyes said it could save a patient’s mental and physical health.

“It not only impacts their mental health issues and their psychological issues, but it also causes biological illnesses, so it impacts everything – your body, your soul and your spirit,” he said. .

Watkins hopes his fellow community members will accept the help offered.

“You just have to have an open mind to give him a chance to talk to someone, you know. And if you’re going through something, just recognize that you’re not alone in this battle,” he said. he declares.

Reyes said the training doesn’t just affect patients. It is also aimed at employees in the workplace.

“So that we can have policies that reflect trauma, we can create policies where if any of our employees were triggered or affected by the patients who caused trauma during the visit, that employee can take five or 10 minutes off. decompress, be aware, relax so she can now continue to serve the patients we have,” Reyes said.

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He also mentioned that he was changing the policy on mourning days for his staff to give them more time off to mourn losses.

Garcia-Rattenbury hopes that each trainee will incorporate this compassion into their daily lives.

“The daily interactions that we have — with the convenience store, with a server in a restaurant — we have to be compassionate and offer grace as much as possible because everyone is going through something,” she said.

The training provided by the University Institute of Health for trauma-informed care is currently free. Currently, a grant allows any business or agency to be formed at no cost, but this only lasts until 2025.

If your business or organization would like to learn more about the training, visit the institute’s website.

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