When Cypress Creek Hospital administrators began a program to address the mental health needs of the first responders in their area, Justin Farris, director of business development and contract administration and spokesperson for the hospital had no idea that they would be expanding the program to reach some of their own colleagues in the health profession because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It wasn’t in our original plans, but we were able to adjust the program to include them,” he said.
The irony wasn’t lost on the administrators who birthed the program and find themselves poised to share their ingenuity across the nation. Here’s the story of how it all began for area first responders.
In response to the overwhelming mental and physical toll the COVID-19 crisis is having on healthcare workers, Cypress Creek Hospital’s Honor Strong Program announced it will expand its services to serve frontline healthcare workers who are in crisis.
Psychological trauma and emotional response to deeply disturbing experiences is a known part of being
a Healthcare Worker/First Responder. If we add in the psychological aftermath of a pandemic, which
specifically affects the First Responder, we see an impact on one’s psyche.
First Responders may fear the stigma associated with seeking help as well as what their future will hold
if they do reach out. It is critical that we ensure health care workers feel free to access mental health
The Honor Strong Program at Cypress Creek Hospital is a resiliency focused, dedicated, acute inpatient
program created to address the unique symptoms experienced by law enforcement, fire fighters, emergency medical personnel, active duty military members, veterans, and front line healthcare workers.
Treating those who treat others requires a unique set of skills and compassion. Treatment focuses on
connecting each professional with others experiencing similar challenges. We begin addressing the
lower levels of trauma and building resiliency skills to confront traumatic events. Our trauma-informed,
resiliency focused treatment model blends Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral
Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Prolonged Exposure (PE).
Unique features of the Honor Strong Program include:
Technology Platform Enables First Responders to Confidentially Ask for Help When in Crisis
In response to a recent increase of suicides in the First Responder community, Cypress Creek Hospital’s Honor Strong Program announced the addition of an online contact tool that is now available for First Responders who are in crisis. Our online contact option allows First Responders to ask for help by confidentially submitting an online inquiry to Honor Strong Program Staff. Cypress Creek Hospital’s Honor Strong Program also offers First Responders a direct, private and dedicated referral line that is separate from our main hospital referral lines. First Responders may call our direct referral line at (281) 995-1475; staff are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Cypress Creek Hospital, an inpatient and outpatient behavioral health center located at 17750 Cali Drive, Houston, launched a new Telehealth service to better serve patients during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, hospital officials announced in an April 13 news release.
In observance of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, each year Cypress Creek engages in educational activities with patients and recognizes staff accomplishments toward suicide prevention during the month of September.
This year, therapists on each unit led group discussions that addressed suicide prevention and the importance of speaking out and getting help. Patients discussed their support groups, importance of community, and reasons why they love their lives. The patients then engaged in an inter-hospital poster contest where they expressed themselves and their positive, encouraging statements to raise awareness for suicide prevention.
Pictured below is one of the posters from the contest. All participants received participation goodies and winning units (voted for by staff) were given purple and teal-colored cupcakes. Purple and teal are the designated colors of suicide awareness prevention. “The patients were incredibly creative,” stated Jaclyn Gallagher, Interim CEO. “Their excitement to raise awareness and their messages of encouragement were very moving and powerful.”
The daily efforts by our Staff are appreciated and pivotal to the excellent care we provide. As a patient stated on a recent satisfaction survey, “Cypress Creek made a big difference in my life. The support from the staff members and doctors made a big difference in the treatment I needed.”
For a week, Facility Directors distributed snacks and bracelets to Staff with sayings such as “Together we can ‘Chip’ away the stigma” and “Thank you for being a lifesaver.”
“As our Facility motto states, ‘Positive people are positively changing lives every day.’ Therefore, we want to continuously recognize staff’s willingness and dedication to care for others in need. Without our wonderful staff, Cypress Creek would not be the amazing place it is,”said Brenda Dominguez, Director of Human Resources.
According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide rates continue to climb with more than 41,000 dying from suicide each year. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline™ at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call Cypress Creek Hospital at 281-751-6139 for a no cost assessment.