Ravenna – Robinson Memorial Hospital has taken steps to have the entire emergency and case management departments’ workers go through specialized training and role-playing scenarios to best treat patients with mental health issues.

“Dealing with people who have behavioral issues can be challenging, stated Sharon Hissom, lieutenant, Police and Protective Services. “The patient can be calm to combative. With training, direct care staff (emergency department and case management) can learn techniques to de-escalate the patient before their behavior escalates and other types of intervention are needed.”

Bringing a training course to Robinson Memorial was a project of Lieutenant Sharon Hissom of Robinson Memorial Hospital Police and Protective Services and Darla Andrews, Occupations Development. Every one of the officers on staff at Robinson Memorial goes through crisis intervention team training, a 40-hour training course offered through the Portage County Sheriff’s Office. When the officers went through the training this year, Lieutenant Hissom thought it would be beneficial to bring back a similar training to the hospital staff.

The de-escalation training provided by Robinson Memorial is a combination of the crisis intervention team training that the officers undergo at the Sheriff’s Office and CPI (Crisis Prevention Institute) training, which the hospital already provides to its employees.

Besides class discussions, employees will have real live scenarios in how to handle patient situations. Actors from the Kent State University theatre program will act out scenarios while staff de-escalates the situation. Staff will experience patients who are dealing with mental issues. Members of the community and the Mental Health and Recovery Board will also attend the training to observe the interactions.

“It’s one thing to talk about what to do in certain situations; it’s a whole different learning event when what you are taught needs to be put into action,” stated Hissom. “The actors dress the part and never fall out of character. Because these actors are not known to staff, the role play is taken very seriously. Another simulation activity places the staff members in a scenario where they actually hear voices speaking in their ears as they attempt to complete assignments and answer questions. The goal is to enhance understanding and compassionate care for individuals experiencing behavioral issues and to decrease the risk of injury for all.”

Courses began October 1 and will run through November 20.