By OraLee Macklenar
Mercy Health Toledo Trauma Recovery Center opened in 2019 with the goal of providing a trauma-informed approach to behavioral health services.
Trauma-informed care seeks to prevent retraumatizing individuals who already have histories of trauma. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration describes the three key elements as “(1) realizing the prevalence of trauma; (2) recognizing how trauma affects all individuals involved with the program, organization, or system, including its own workforce; and (3) responding by putting this knowledge into practice.”
It takes awareness and a proactive stance to deliver genuine trauma-informed care. Our team (clinical case manager, victim advocate, and trauma-certified clinical therapists) work hard to deliver trauma-specific services. Our treatment strategies are evidence-based, which ensures that we are helping our patients with proven techniques for their recovery from trauma.
At the Trauma Recovery Center, located within Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, we work daily with individuals who have experienced some pretty horrific situations. We have helped many victims deal with the trauma from crimes such as assault, robbery, gun violence, gang violence, sexual assault, survivors of homicide victims, or human trafficking. Other patients are not victims of crime but are seeking outpatient, ongoing therapy for other traumatic life experiences. We provide clinical case management services, victim advocacy, and psychological therapy.
Our entire team has frequent training in TIC. We also attempt to work collaboratively with community agencies that are trauma-informed. In addition, many of us are active members on boards or coalitions that follow trauma-informed guidelines.
Many of our patients have a significant history of multiple traumatic experiences, referred to as complex trauma. Oftentimes, those with complex trauma have not experienced a warm welcome in other healthcare settings. Their past intense physical and psychological stress reactions may produce hypervigilance or a sensitivity that healthcare providers might not be aware of. The stress reactions can permanently harm the individual’s physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.
As a result, we have taken practical steps to create a safe environment for our patients and their families. From our waiting room to our group room and our offices, we strive to make our patients feel welcome, safe, and comfortable. In addition, our team practices a very non-judgmental approach to individuals. We recognize that some patients’ personality challenges result from unresolved trauma. We also work from a strengths-based perspective. Helping traumatized individuals recognize that they have great value is the beginning of the healing journey. This is where hope begins for many. To be believed in, recognized, and listened to are some of the basic human needs that our patients are seeking.
We collaborate with patients in setting treatment goals. Keeping patients actively engaged in their treatment assists in successful trauma-informed care. In addition, we complete trauma scales, measuring pre- and post-treatment outcomes.
Our mission is to reach out to the members of our community who have suffered from violence, trauma, and loss. Our team is dedicated to serving the community by promoting healing with respect, compassion, and effective mental health services.
OraLee Macklenar, LISW-S, is a supervisor at Mercy Health Toledo Trauma Recovery Center.