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Offering nearly 200 different workplace services, the Partners Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is committed to and passionate about providing resources and counseling to support employees' well-being and promote a healthy work environment. In the past year alone, EAP served nearly 6,000 BWH employees.
The EAP is an accredited and award-winning internal program available to all Partners employees, with a comprehensive referral and resource base for issues such as stress and depression, family matters, domestic violence, grief and loss, relationship problems and legal or financial concerns. It is among the few employee assistance programs across the country that has earned the widely respected accreditation from the Council on Accreditation-the hallmark of excellence in more than 350 standards for EAP providers, including continuous quality improvement, delivery of evidence-based practice, service and risk management. The EAP is comprised of providers who have set high performance standards and are dedicated to delivering the highest quality services to BWH employees. When surveyed, nearly 95 percent of employees who utilized EAP services reported overall satisfaction.
BWH Bulletin recently sat down with Nancy Robb, LICSW, CEAP, an EAP counselor, to learn more.
What kinds of counseling does the EAP provide?
I work with employees who are experiencing a variety of concerns. Some are undergoing marital issues, financial struggles, health issues, family concerns or communication issues with their bosses. I meet with employees who have elder care concerns about family members or child care troubles.
I never know what is going to come up during a session, and that is part of the beauty of this work. People come in, and as a counselor, I listen and let them guide the conversation. Everyone worries about the people they love. We've all been there.
How do employees make an appointment?
They usually call first and speak to a staff assistant, who will set them up for an appointment with a counselor. I usually see people within five business days of first speaking with them by phone, but if the issue is urgent, we will see them the same day. We work around people's schedules. There is a counselor on-call Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and for emergencies at night.
Do you enjoy your work?
I've been working here for many years, left and came back, and am deeply committed to this program. I like the diversity of the work and its collaborative nature. People come in and we work out a plan with them.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Seeing people getting back on track is very rewarding. Mostly it's because of their efforts. What's good about the program is that it is voluntary; no one is here because they're supposed to be or made to be. So we're not working with that resistance; EAP has never been set up that way. People are getting in touch with us because they are choosing to do so.
What are some of the challenges?
We spend a lot of time figuring out the resources people need, and it can be challenging when people need a higher level of care or services than we can provide. When we start our sessions, we go over the EAP confidentiality statement very closely so the expectations are clear. We always talk about and work through issues together with the employee and consider going outside of the program (with written consent from the employee) a last resort.
In the very rare case that the EAP determines a serious threat to the life or safety of self or others, or to the workplace, including patients; or if, in the EAP's judgment, there is a serious medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention, the EAP may need to reveal information outside of the program to the appropriate resource that can protect the employee or others. In this case, we have to make a call. But we don't make those big decisions alone; the counselors consult each other. Fortunately, these situations are extremely rare.
There are times when employees want to share an issue with managers or supervisors and we advise against it because we don't believe it is in their best interest.
How does EAP's work fit into BWH's mission?
By providing support to staff-whether it relates to an issue at home that's distracting or a concern in the workplace-we give staff support so they can carry out the hospital's mission of delivering excellent patient care.
Learn more about the EAP.