Partner Spotlight: Eastern State Hospital

Thursday, December 3, 2020

BH WELL and Eastern State Hospital Team Up During COVID-19

University of Kentucky’s Behavioral Health Wellness Environments for Living and Learning (BH WELL) research team is composed of health professionals who stepped up with Eastern State Hospital (ESH) partners in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to BH WELL’s current projects promoting evidence-based best practices in behavioral wellness, here is a spotlight on how the partnership pivoted to meet pandemic needs.

Apricot Ribbon Challenge

The BH WELL team joined the UK College of Nursing and the Kentucky Nurses Association’s (KNA) Apricot Ribbon Challenge initiative to honor and support Lexington’s healthcare heroes. The BH WELL team distributed apricot ribbons to nurses at ESH. Tanna McKinney, ESH Clinical Nurse Leader and Director of Infection Control was the first to receive her apricot ribbon. More information on Lexington’s partnership with KNA’s Ribbon Challenge can be found in this article.


Men’s clothing gathered by
BH WELL and donated to ESH.

ESH Clothing Donation

One of the consequences of the pandemic was a lack of men’s clothing for use by ESH patients. When a patient is cared for at ESH, adequate clothing is a basic necessity. A BH WELL team member gathered donations of men’s clothing within their neighborhood and church to help replenish ESH's low reserves. Shown is the first of two deliveries of men’s clothing.

Marc Woods, Chief Nurse Executive
for ESH and UKHC, and Zim Okoli,
Director of BH WELL and UK CON
Associate Professor, pose together
with masks early on during the pandemic.

Collaborative Action Planning

Chizimuzo (Zim) Okoli, Director of BH WELL and Evidence-Based Practice at ESH, works alongside Marc Woods, Assistant Chief Nurse Executive for ESH and UKHC Behavioral Health to assess the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare workers preventive practices. Research about COVID-19’s impact on the workforce can provide hospital administration with important information to guide policies and practices that ensure worker and patient safety and wellbeing.

Bassema Abu-Farsakh, Nursing Ph.D. student
and BH WELL Graduate Research Assistant,
shown during a social distanced
lunch date with BH WELL
Assistant Director of Operations
and Evidence-Based Practice,
Heather Robertson.

Socially Distanced Lunch Featured in Mosaic

Bassema Abu-Farsakh is a  BH WELL Graduate Research Assistant and a University of Kentucky College of Nursing Ph.D. student. Heather Robertson, BH WELL Assistant Director of Operations and Assistant Director of Evidence-Based Practice at ESH, joined Bassema for lunch at ESH maintaining social distancing guidelines. Heather Robertson documented the moment in a photo that was submitted to UKHC Arts in HealthCare. This photo was featured in one of six UKHC Arts in HealthCare mosaics displayed at UK HealthCare facilities. More information on the mosaics can be found here

The BH WELL team is honored to serve such a wonderful Academic-Practice Partnership involving the UK College of Nursing, UK HealthCare, and ESH. BH WELL is grateful to this partnership that allows us to serve our patients living with mental illness and behavioral health challenges and our colleagues. 

As visible in the “Heroes Work Here” signs, the work of the nurses and other health professionals is crucial at all times, especially in a pandemic. Many think of nurses as providing direct care. This is true. However, nurses are also involved in administration and research. They are continually adapting to meet the needs of the healthcare environment in order to best care for and protect patients. Nurse researchers partner with administration to quickly gather important information related to how the pandemic is impacting patients, staff, and the healthcare environment. Combined, their work is essential to support patients and those on the front lines caring for them. To ALL of the nurses and research teams who have stepped up during the pandemic, THANK YOU!