Kristine Leggett and Eric Contreras
Kristine Leggett, mental health clinical resource leader (left) and Eric Contreras, child and youth worker (right)

#MGH Pay it Forward: Kristine Leggett and Eric Contreras

The #MGHPayitForward series highlights the many moments of thanks within our community. Whether it is for feedback, teamwork, or a small gesture of kindness, gratitude is everywhere. We follow the flow of gratitude at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH), Toronto East Health Network as our community shares stories about their peers.

By Isabel Terrell 

Those who work in healthcare know the best care plans often involve thinking quickly and acting swiftly. Training and education lay the groundwork for adaptation to the many patient faces seen on the front line.

With so many emergency code procedures that occur in a hospital setting, it can be tough to make sure everyone has the same action plans in mind, says Eric Contreras, child and youth worker in mental health services. He feels this is especially true with Code Whites, the emergency code for individuals exhibiting violent behaviour that could potentially cause harm to others.

MGH’s Code White policy aims to assist staff in implementing a person-centered model for interacting and responding to an actual or potentially violent person in the hospital.

Effective Code White management “improves not just safety, but the quality and richness of the service we offer here in terms of how we relate to our patients,” says Eric.

Eric stepped up to the plate when team members in child and adolescent mental health services requested that he share his expertise. Kristine Leggett, mental health clinical resource leader, worked with Eric to develop a more robust strategy for practice.

Last month, Eric joined Kristine in running a Mock Code White training session.

While his team acted out realistic scenarios, Eric drew on his experience to give out pointers for body language, voice tone, and team communication with security--factors that play a large role in efficient de-escalation and intervention.

“Understanding how we communicate in crisis is something that improves with practice,” says Eric. Since the session, he’s noticed emotional reactions are less prevalent when his team goes into “action mode.”

“That’s the goal,” he says.

Eric and Kristine
Eric and Kristine say Mock Code White training sessions have helped the team feel more prepared in action mode.

Mock Code Whites are a quarterly requirement for the mental health department as a whole, says Kristine. With Eric’s help, she’s aiming to up its frequency to a monthly practice in child and youth mental health.

“It’s exceptional to see the expertise of a staff member being shared with their colleagues in this way, and people really value that,” says Kristine. “I’m happy to see Eric shining and keeping everybody safer as a result.”

Since the start of his career as a child and youth worker in 2000, Eric has worked in settings where applying intervention skills was required more frequently. He was also part of a team that devised and designed techniques for the Safe Management Inc. Workplace Violence Prevention Program, used by MGH staff. He says his experience helped him identify where there was room for improvement. He’s been part of the Inpatient Services team on B4 since 2015.

“I get a lot of satisfaction in helping young people regain the hope and optimism they may have lost due to difficult life circumstances, and see that life is precious,” says Eric. 

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services treats a wide range of patients aged 17 and under. MGH’s interdisciplinary team partners with children, youth, families, and communities to provide effective care, stabilization, treatment and education through times of crisis, transition and challenge.

Do you have an MGH gratitude story to share? Contact @email or share your story using the hashtag #MGHPayitForward and tag @MGHToronto.

Related: #MGH Pay it Forward, Wolf Klassen and Sally Ischiropoulos 

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