McLean Hospital 115 Mill Street Belmont, MA 02478
Like all programs at McLean, we take tremendous pride in the care we provide to our patients at the Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Inpatient Program (AB2). We have long created a culture of caring that extends beyond our patient population that is felt by our staff, including the residents and both nursing and medical students. But, almost a year ago, we were challenged greatly in the face of a volatile event that impacted us all. Many of us shared an initial reaction which was a feeling of helplessness and a desire to be present, at work, even when we weren’t scheduled to be on the shift. Just to be there. It spoke to the innate camaraderie and strong bonds we develop with each other in doing the work that we do, day in and day out. Our leaders, Jeanne McElhinney, MS, RN, nurse director, and Dr. Joseph Stoklosa, medical director, gave us opportunities to safely voice our challenges and share our fears and frustrations, bringing many viewpoints to the forefront. However, as the processing and our work continued so did the acuity. McElhinney noted, at the time, across all disciplines, the morale was beginning to suffer.
In recognizing that we were our own best supports, Dr. Stoklosa thought one way out of this turmoil would be to unite and channel our attention to our common purpose. It was time for us to reflect on our AB2 pride. He proposed an idea to have an AB2 slogan contest, with the hopes that this would draw out people’s creativity while reflecting on why we do what we do. The plan was to come up with a slogan, a daily affirmation that expressed our common goal. What a fun and creative way to create a sense of AB2 pride in the process!
Linda Fulton, MHS, commented, “I found the process very uplifting and the process of bringing everyone together a uniting one.” All disciplines were involved. Yaara Kastiel, AB2 expressive therapist, created the slogan box, which was left on the unit for a few weeks. Just seeing the box and its meaning was a boost, at times, and it motivated people’s competitive nature. There were discussions generated and a social buzz from thoughts on silly slogans, prompting laughter, to deep and more reflective ones. The winning slogans were chosen by the unit directors who dually noted that the morale palpably went up and that it was a great team building activity. McElhinney noted, “It really brought the whole treatment team together. It reminded us all of why we do this work and that even in the setting of high acuity, uncertainty, and difficulty that we will get through it together.”
After the winning slogan was chosen, many of the AB2 family gathered to celebrate and much fun was had sharing the many creative slogans. This experience really exemplified the camaraderie that makes the AB2 team.
The winning slogans were a tie. “AB2 Will Get You Through” was created by Steve Kromer, MHS. “It is meant to assure each patient that staff will provide care in a respectful and supportive way during their entire hospitalization.” Dr. Stoklosa adds, the message speaks to all. “It encapsulated the sense that AB2 not only helps its patients get through tough times, but it also helps staff get through tough times.”
Christopher Nelson, MHS’s, “Cura Ab Intitio” (Care from the beginning), really speaks to our mission to provide care to everyone from day one. “I wanted to create a slogan that captures what I think makes AB2 stand out. AB2 care begins the minute a patient walks in the door. We understand patients often come to AB2 in the midst of one of the more stressful periods of their lives. I think that the staff here truly embraces that fact. Each patient is welcomed just as a troubled friend would be into one’s home.” AB2 staff takes the journey together with the patient.
These slogans have been mounted onto canvases and hang on both sides of the unit capturing the attention of our patients, their families and even visitors. Laura Fogg, MHS, reiterates this: “Just days after we hung them on the unit, a patient told me seeing the messages made him feel hopeful. He felt that we, as a unit, cared for him throughout his illness and brought him full circle.”
The slogans that hang on AB2 will continue to lend to our supportive culture and serve as a daily affirmation of the work we do, then will motivate us to continue to send the message to all of our common purpose.