Grafton Up For State Patient Care Honor

March 10, 2011

By Rebecca Layne
March 10, 2011

Years after changing its philosophy on patient care, one local organization is being recognized statewide.

Grafton is one of five finalists in Virginia for the first Virginia Healthcare Innovators Award for best practices in trauma-informed treatment and care.

Grafton is a private nonprofit organization that serves people with a combination of severe intellectual disabilities and psychiatric disorders. Often, its clients are non-verbal with a tendency to lash out physically.

Grafton was one of 29 organizations with more than 250 employees to be nominated for developing innovative ways to improve healthcare quality and efficiency in patient care.

The award recognizes Virginia organizations that have developed “breakthrough” services “with the potential to revolutionize healthcare in Virginia.”

Prior to 2004, it wasn’t unusual for Grafton to have 250 restraints of individuals during a month in the Winchester region, which includes classrooms at the Ruth Birch Center and Elm Street campus (at 407 Elm) and its 22 group homes in the city, according to Kim Sanders, executive vice president.

The average restraining time totaled about 33,000 minutes, she said.

Restraint consisted of staffers holding back aggressive clients and warding them off with a couch cushion or a beanbag.

In 2004, Grafton officials implemented a new philosophy in patient care that minimized the use of coercive techniques.

Staff began to consider a simple question: How would they want to be treated? They took a proactive approach to dealing with patients that was no longer “punishing” and “controlling.”

“We focused on comfort over control and minimized the use of anything subversive or coercive,” said Shweta Adyanthaya, director of communications at Grafton. “It’s about comfort, kindness and treating clients with dignity and respect.”

The results have been significant.