The STEM school shooting in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, last May was the third school shooting that involved direct transport of victims to Centura Health—Littleton Adventist Hospital, beginning with the Columbine High School massacre just over 20 years ago. This community of caregivers knows firsthand that tragedy can strike unexpectedly, and that a healthy, capable and coordinated team is critical to providing top quality care to patients and their loved ones—whole person care for the mind, body and spirit.

Critical care happens every day in hospitals and the staff at Littleton Adventist Hospital is ready at a moment’s notice. The community surrounding the hospital, however, is often not.

Despite living in times where acts of violence are almost commonplace, it’s easy to fall into the comfortable belief that it “won’t happen here.”

When the shooting takes place in a K-12 school, the entire community surrounding the school goes on lockdown. Several area outpatient clinics were included in that mandate and were called on to create a safe and stable environment during the crisis.

Tracy, an MA at a Highlands Ranch clinic, said she remained calm on May 7 when the first message was received from building management alerting them to a lockdown. “I didn’t feel scared or worried. I just felt like I needed to keep order in the clinic with our patients and my fellow coworkers. We did everything we could to keep our people safe and informed,” she explained. We honor and thank Tracy and other staff members for putting the safety and concern of their patients and coworkers first.

The Clinical Mission Integration Team has been working in the outpatient area of Littleton Adventist Hospital for over a year now. CMI specialist Jacque Bauer has been working with associates and leadership in the clinics surrounding Littleton Adventist Hospital for several months offering spiritual support to the teams. She has been building relationships with them and being a gift of presence to the associates there as they navigate challenging seasons in their personal and professional lives.

Bauer was immediately made aware of which clinics went on lockdown and made it a point to reach out to them following the shooting. She spent several hours allowing them to debrief and talk through their experience. Many had friends and family members who were directly affected by the incident.

“I was humbled with their intrinsic loyalty to each other and was honored to pray with them,” she said. “I listened to the stories of selflessness by physicians and associates who cared for each other and their patients during the shooting, demonstrating the relevance of spiritual care in our community clinics.”

Centura Health’s commitment to whole person care means meeting the physical, mental and spiritual needs of not only our patients, but our hard-working, dedicated associates and caregivers as well. Healthy, well cared for teams are one reason Centura Health’s hospitals and clinics are so well equipped to provide outstanding care to our patients—care for not only the body, but the mind and spirit as well, care that binds us as a community and is so critical in times of unexpected tragedy and loss.

Wendy Forbes is director of media relations and public relations for Centura Health.