A new program at Intermountain Medical Center aims to confront post-traumatic stress disorder type symptoms, and other mental trauma caregivers may experience at work.

Gary Brunson, Intermountain Medical Center Assistant ER Nurse Manager, shares about doctors, nurses, and caregivers in the Emergency Department at Intermountain Medical Center that has created a new mental health peer support system, called the OASIS program, which aims to confront post-traumatic stress disorder type symptoms and other psychological trauma caregivers might experience at work.

OASIS stands for:

  • Outreach education
  • Administrative support
  • Staff support
  • Internal/Incident support
  • Social support for all members of our ED family
Dr. Adam Balls, Chair of the Emergency Department at Intermountain Medical Center, Gary Brunson, assistant nurse manager, and several colleagues developed the program after a co-worker took his own life in March of 2018. Skyler Gardner had worked in the Emergency Department for several years as a critical care tech lead.
Dr. Balls said his death came as a shock to everyone. “Skyler was loved by many and liked by all. He had reached out to some people, but they didn’t know what to do.”
After his death, Skyler’s parents, Blake and Wendy Gardner, started a suicide prevention campaign called, “Love Yourself” in hopes of getting people the help they need. As a part of the effort, they made “Love Yourself” wristbands which ER staff wear and give out to patients in similar situations. To date, they’ve sent more than 7,000 around the world.
Intermountain Healthcare offers free counseling to all employees through the Employee Assistance Program. Dr. Balls said it’s a great resource, but some ER staff may feel uncomfortable talking with a stranger. The OASIS program will train nurses and physicians in suicide prevention and will select leaders and peer counselors. Nurse Megan Frausto is helping lead the effort of the new program. As someone who has struggled with mental health, she hopes telling her story will help others.
Organizers hope talking about mental health will show others that it’s okay not to be okay. Dr. Balls said struggling through tough situations don’t have to be a part of working in the Emergency Department.

For more information visit intermountainhealthcare.org.

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