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Other Voices

Coping with the Newtown tragedy


By Modern Healthcare
Posted: December 22, 2012 - 12:01 am ET
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“Danbury Hospital received two children and one adult. … When we announced that there would be no more transports and all of the patients who would be coming were already here, there was enormous sadness. Everyone recognized what that meant. We had been told at least 24 had been shot. That's when the tears started to flow. That's when people started to hug each other. Some sought privacy to grieve. Everybody maintained their composure, acted professionally and really remarkably during the crisis when their talents were needed. But after everything that could be done was done and that news settled in, there was real anguish. …

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“For a special Grand Rounds, we brought in an outside team of child psychiatrists who were particularly familiar with childhood violence and the trauma that follows that. We walked through the process that kids at different ages are going to go through as they process this. Kids at different ages have different reactions. The pediatricians thought that this was very helpful as well as the family practice docs. It was just to give them a refresher on the kinds of things that are going to come up in the days and weeks and months ahead as they provide help for the people who will be seeking their help. “On Monday or Tuesday, we had a couple of hundred people in a room to talk about what had happened. I didn't want our psychiatrists doing this, although I'm sure they could have. They were all spent, quite honestly. They had been out counseling for a couple of days. We had someone walk through what are the signs of stress, what are the signs in our co-workers; how are people going to process this; and how do they react to grief. What do we do if a co-worker breaks down? What do you say? What do you avoid saying? This was very helpful in an environment where there was no sense or purpose or order to this whole tragedy.”

From a Modern Healthcare interview with Dr. John Murphy
President and CEO
Western Connecticut Health Network



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