Kenner Army Health Clinic received recognition as an Army Safety and Occupational Health "Star Site" during a Nov. 8 commander's call session here.
Brig. Gen. Telita Crosland, commanding general of Regional Health Command-Atlantic, presented the award while making note of the clinic's stellar showing during its Army Safety and Health Management System inspection Sept. 11- 13. This award, she pointed out, demonstrates Kenner's commitment to safety from all levels and recognizes the organization as a leader in occupational safety and health.
Crosland made a special trip to present the award to the Kenner team assembled at the Lee Theater. She said she wanted to illustrate the recognition's importance by personally presenting the ASHMS star to Kenner - a move that would ensure it did not go unnoticed. She further shared that RHC-A, MEDCOM and the Army appreciate Kenner's level of commitment to safety.
"A tremendous amount of work and dedication goes into achieving star recognition," Crosland informed the assembled audience. "The criteria and effort is independent of the size of an organization. You accomplished the exact same things that a major medical center had to accomplish. This is the same standards, checklist, and most importantly, the exact same mindset culture that you had to demonstrate to be successful in getting the star recognition."
Passing the inspection was a total team effort with leader and employee involvement in a culture of safety, observed Lt. Col. Paul J. Kassebaum, KAHC commander. "Achieving the star of excellence is a milestone for us, not an endpoint, as (my staff) will continually seek to maximize safety for staff and patients.
"Safety is all about having the right attitude," he further noted. "The enthusiasm the whole staff shows is remarkable. Our Deputy Commander for Administration, Lt. Col. Dave Glad, led preparations by walking around and quizzing staff daily. At first, they hid from these pop quizzes, but then they made it a game and even created jingles to help each other learn more about safety. Kenner would not have received this recognition if we did not have a true culture of safety."
ASHMS is a DOD safety and health management system that was adapted from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Voluntary Protection Program. The associated star award serves as a tool to recognize exemplary worksites with comprehensive, successful safety and health management systems.
Kenner was rated in 243 areas during the recent inspection, with taskings ranging from moderate to complex, according to Andrew Washko, KAHC safety manager. The inspection criteria was divided into four sections: management leadership and employee involvement, worksite analysis, hazard prevention and control, and safety and health training.
Washko, who joined the Kenner team earlier in the year, stressed he had never done an ASHMS inspection at his prior positions.
"Having worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the ASHMS program was completely new to me, however, safety is safety," said Washko. "Our biggest challenge was simply getting the staff to understand the importance and 'buying-in' to these processes."
Passing the ASHMS inspection was a success because, Washko said, the command group believes in the process enough to engage all levels of staff at 100 percent.
"They provided the time, tools and training needed so every member of the team understood their role and mission related to employee safety," said Washko.
Kenner plans to continue instilling safety in every area throughout the clinic. "We will continue to train our staff by educating, promoting and challenging them with safety topics," Washko said. "We will set a safety mindset that applies to work and home, and continue open discussions related to maintaining our safety culture here at KAHC."