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Community Health Needs Assessment

Inland says NO to domestic violence

Release Date: 10/18/2014

Domestic violence has financial impact on all businesses
Opinion Editorial – Published October 16, 2014 in the Morning Sentinel/KJ
By John Dalton, President and CEO, Inland Hospital, Waterville
October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I don’t mean to be indelicate but, why aren’t more business leaders at the table helping to find a way to end domestic violence in our community? Where is the moral outrage?  Where is the angst about raising our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, or their friends in a culture of silence that condones emotional, physical and sexual abuse of women?  Where is the concern about the financial impact on our businesses?  Oh wait, did that get your attention?  Good, because there is a business case to be made to fight this societal plague and my organization and I want to share what we’ve learned in hopes that it will influence you to take action.
It is estimated that one in four women in the U.S. will be abused by an intimate partner in her lifetime and that this violence costs businesses $900 million in lost productivity and $4.1 billion in direct medical and mental healthcare services every year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
If you employ women, there is a very good chance that one or more is a victim or survivor of domestic abuse.  At Inland Hospital, a number of our more than 550 female employees have bravely and calmly talked with me about horrific injuries, fear, shame, concern for their children and the impact this all has on their attendance and productivity at work. Research shows that nearly three-quarters of abused women were harassed by their partner while at work, so being late to work, leaving early, and missing work completely can be frequent occurrences - for both victims and abusers.
I’ve spoken with coworkers who worry about a colleague and are concerned that her abuser might show up at work.  I see the impact on our managers and security staff when we are in a heightened state of alert or when an abuser has used social media to emotionally attack his victim and try to destroy her reputation.
We will maintain a safe workplace and do everything we can to protect and support our employees but we don’t have an unlimited supply of money or time.  And neither do you.  Make no mistake, this isn’t just about your bottom line; no, your silence helps to weaken every business in the Kennebec Valley. This is not a “private” matter anymore - domestic violence is a workplace issue and we need to treat it like other safety problems that negatively impact our employees and our business.
Years ago, we asked ourselves at Inland, what can we do to change the culture of silence about domestic violence in our community? We started providing Community Benefit funding for Family Violence Project efforts, we make sure “Help Line” flyers are posted in all bathrooms and locker rooms at the hospital, and we hang “Silence Hides Violence” banners at our front entrance. Our employees participate in the kNOw Violence Task Force, and we take part in “Speak Out” events like the one held on October 1st at Thomas College. Two years ago, we developed a task force to create a new policy that heightens awareness of domestic abuse and provides guidance, education and resources for employees and colleagues impacted by violence.  We address it at new employee orientation and it is part of our mandatory annual education for every employee.
But to us, it’s not enough. We want to do more.  And we want to encourage business leaders to recognize the impact of domestic violence on their bottom line, and take action like we are, to try and make a difference. Actively support organizations like the Family Violence Project, or consider writing your own domestic abuse policy. Whatever you do, I’m asking you to make it clear that this matters to you and your organization. It will show your employees that you support them, and send a message to abusers that you don’t tolerate domestic abuse of any kind. Remember, as our colleagues at the Family Violence Project say, “No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something”.
About the Author:
John Dalton has been President and CEO of Inland Hospital and Senior Vice President of EMHS for almost nine years. Inland is a 48-bed community hospital in Waterville, 18 physician practices in Waterville, Fairfield, Oakland, Unity, N. Anson, and Madison, and Lakewood, a Continuing Care Center on the Inland campus. Dalton also serves as Chairman of the board of directors for the Central Maine Growth Council and the KVCC Foundation. Contact John Dalton: jdalton@emhs.org or 861-3012