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Susquehanna Life

Evangelical Community Hospital Earns HAP Achievement Award

May 06, 2019 11:32AM ● By Erica Shames

 Instrumental in implementing the human trafficking education, awareness, and care program at Evangelical Community Hospital were (left to right) the team of Susan Mathias, CEO Transitions of PA; Heather Shnyder, Prevention Education Specialist with Transitions of PA; and, from Evangelical, Tamara Persing, RN, BSN, MS, CIC, FAPIC, VP Nursing and Chief Nursing Officer; Rachel Gordner, RN, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program Coordinator; Rachel Smith, Vice President of Human Resources; and Kendra Aucker, President and CEO.

Evangelical Community Hospital, Lewisburg, Pa., earned an achievement award from The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) for its outstanding effort to improve healthcare in the communities it serves.

Evangelical’s entry, Community Hospital Drives Awareness of Human Trafficking…A Roadmap to Success, was chosen as an Optimal Operations Achievement award winner. Fourteen award recipients were selected from 127 total award submissions and were chosen for their exceptional work and innovation in community health projects, quality improvement efforts, and operational efficiencies.

In recent years, Pennsylvania has noted a marked increase in the report of human trafficking cases and is ranked 9th in the nation with 199 cases reported. Statistics show that 88 percent or more of trafficking victims, at some point in their victimization, access health care. Realizing the potential Evangelical employees had to encounter these victims motivated the Hospital to do what could be done to stem the tide of human trafficking.

As one of the first in the Commonwealth to make education about human trafficking a priority, Evangelical set forth some major initiatives that include:

  • Training and Development – Leadership participated in live training sessions about the realities of human trafficking. That education then spanned out to online learning programs and all 1,900 employees took part, with 1,200 employees taking an extra classroom session because of their desire to learn more about the issue. The training has created a staff prepared to identify, assess, and intervene when necessary in suspected cases of human trafficking.
  • On-Call Expert – The Hospital established several on-call experts who work within the system to expedite the handling of suspected human trafficking cases. These individuals use resources, such as Transitions of PA and the local authorities to handle the cases properly.
  • Champions Identified – Select employees have been recruited as champions within provider offices to maintain heightened awareness. The individuals serve as advanced trained individuals who assist in identifying cases that may need attention and then work to liaison with the on-call expert.

“Education is key to making a difference,” said Kendra Aucker, President and CEO of Evangelical Community Hospital. “You can’t institute change unless you understand the problem. By being proactive and making the effort to address serious social issues—like human trafficking—we can create a better and safer community for our children and our children’s children.”

The human trafficking awareness program has been successful at Evangelical with employees not only using the information to detect possible cases during their normal workday, but also going home and talking with their families about the need for awareness and caution.

“This program has been extremely beneficial and we’re glad to share it with other organizations looking to replicate it to assist in fighting the problem,” Aucker said, “We’re honored by the award, but more importantly, we’re invested in the process of education and being more vigilant about helping victims in need.”

“HAP congratulates the winners of the 2019 Achievement Awards for their dedication to putting the patient at the center of everything they do,” said Andy Carter, HAP’s president and chief executive officer.

“Each winning submission is a reflection of the communities they serve. Their commitment to breaking down siloes, leveraging new and exciting partnerships, and addressing their communities’ most critical needs is a testament to their focus on improving the quality, value, and outcomes of the care they provide.”

Entries were evaluated by a 16-judge panel. The panelists, drawn from Pennsylvania and across the nation, represented the public and private sectors, business organizations, consumer groups and renowned health care quality institutes. The Achievement Awards program began during 1978.

About Evangelical

Evangelical is a non-profit organization that employs 1,900 individuals and has more than 170 employed and non-employed physicians on staff. The Hospital is licensed to accommodate 132 overnight patients, 12 acute rehab patients, and 18 bassinets. The Hospital serves residents throughout the Central Susquehanna Valley, including those living in Snyder, Union, Northumberland, and Lycoming counties.

About HAP

HAP is a statewide membership services association that represents nearly 240 organizations, as well as the patients and communities they serve. Additional information about HAP is available online at

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