In the world of trauma-responsive care, it is preferred practice to ask “What happened to you?” vs. “What’s wrong with you?” And it is in this spirit, of recognizing a traumatized organization, that I am asking the question, “CDC, what happened to you?” Twenty-four months of leading the charge for public health during a global pandemic is in itself traumatizing for an organization. As a collective, those dedicated public health professionals who are mired in this endless moving target of COVID and its variants must feel equally traumatized.
Organizational trauma impacts systems and the people who work within those systems. For example, COVID has challenged our systems of care and systems of education and the fallout is all around us. Omicron has added to the chaos and confusion as it rips through our schools with lightning speed just as winter break ended. In the midst of the current surge, the CDC announced an about-face in recommendations for isolation and quarantine in a truncated and confusing series of messages whose timing seems incredibly off-kilter.
The updated CDC guidance left many school nurses shaking their heads in disbelief because cutting isolation and quarantine in half during a surging variant that is impacting children seems antithetical to the time we are living through.
In an effort to attempt to understand what is unfolding in real-time, I dug into material about traumatized organizations and found a very helpful information that can be applied to our beleagured school districts too.
Trauma overwhelms our protective structure and sends us into survival mode. It leaves us vulnerable and shatters our sense of safety and security and how we look at the world. And if left unaddressed, it can result in long-term harm—not just to individuals, but to organizations as well. – retrieved from Seven “Signs And Symptoms” Of Organizational Trauma by Jacob Wolinsky
The answers are within the CDC itself! CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response collaborated with SAMHSA’s National Center for Trauma-Informed Care to create a specialized training for public health emergencies through a trauma-informed perspective. The 6 Guiding Principles to a Trauma-Informed Approach provides a framework built on rebuilding systems of safety.
6 Guiding Principles To A Trauma-Informed Approach
- Trustworthiness & transparency
- Peer support
- Collaboration & mutuality
- Empowerment & choice
- Cultural, historical & gender issues
Adopting a trauma-informed approach is not accomplished through any single particular technique or checklist. It requires constant attention, caring awareness, sensitivity, and possibly a cultural change at an organizational level. On-going internal organizational assessment and quality improvement, as well as engagement with community stakeholders, will help to imbed this approach which can be augmented with organizational development and practice improvement. – retrieved from6 Guiding Principles To A Trauma-Informed Approach