Partner Spotlight: Eastern State Hospital

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.

Work Learning Program

The Work Learning Program was designed as a way for nurses to further their education and advance their careers, and to prepare these nurses for practice and leadership. The program provides evidence-based support to full-time employees admitted to the Work Learning Program.

The program was designed to:

  1. Create a space in the workplace set aside for learning.
  2. Create a smooth transition from work to work-learning.
  3. Create a sense of belonging by creating work-learning cohorts studying the same content.
  4. Provide program coordination and direct student support.
  5. Offer program commitment to the work-learners.

The program offers extra support such as study room, paid study time, peer tutoring, and bonding activities to full-time health professionals further their education. The program began in Fall 2017 with an RN to BSN cohort. This cohort graduated in August 2019 and participated in the December 2019 graduation ceremony. BH WELL is continuing to partner with the University of Kentucky, UK HealthCare, Eastern State Hospital and the UK College of Nursing on future Work Learning Program cohorts.

                                                     WLP Seminars


Johna's Story

“I felt like getting through the BSN program would be pretty stressful while working full time, but when I heard about the Work Learning Program I thought it would be a great opportunity.  Studying with my peers and discussing the class work with people that were going through the same course load was extremely helpful.”

And what did her work colleagues think of the quality of her work while going through the program?

A colleague of Ms. Arnett’s described Johna and her work team this way: “You are so incredibly inspiring, trying and seeing through a new medication that has allowed this patient to go home to their family! I am incredibly grateful to work with each of you and be a part of this innovative work. Pat yourselves on the back - you deserve it!"

Johna Arnette, BSN, RN, completed her BSN August 2019 as part of the inaugural RN to BSN Work Learning Program (WLP) at Eastern State Hospital. She is currently back in the Work Learning Program as a Doctoral student and will begin year 2 of her studies toward a Doctorate of Nursing Practice. She completed her ADN at Bluegrass Community and Technical College Lawrenceburg campus in 2015. As a WLP RN to BSN student in the UK College of Nursing, she completed a research paper on Staffing Requirements in Psychiatric Facilities to Decrease Staff Injury. Her capstone was Aggressive Behavior in Psychiatric Patients and Nursing Interventions. She wanted to do the WLP program because she wanted to work closely with co-workers and be able to lean on them throughout the process. Her areas of interest are psychiatric nurse leadership. While in the WLP program, Johna was promoted to a Patient Care Manager position. She was also inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honors Society in Spring 2019. Johna has been married to her husband, Jeff, since 2016. They have a 14-year-old Border Collie-Australian Shepherd mix named Harley and a cat named Dora who is 5.


2018 APNA Student Scholarship Recipient

2018 American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) Student Scholarship Recipient, Sarret Seng, is a UK CON 2nd degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing senior who also serves as the Work Learning Program peer tutor and a Mental Health Associate at Eastern State Hospital.

Sarret also worked tirelessly to provide support to our APNA KY Chapter conference held last Friday at Norton’s in Louisville. 

We are certainly proud of Sarret. She is a great representation of the Work Learning Program, the College of Nursing, and, now, the APNA too!


Educational Materials


Tailored tobacco treatment educational materials are available to health professionals. These materials will serve as aids to health professionals working with anyone who wants to stop smoking and stop using other nicotine products. These resources were specifically designed to support individuals living with mental and behavioral health challenges who want to stop smoking and who want to stop using other nicotine products.

This policy brief summarizes tobacco treatment policies and practices for Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) in Kentucky. CMHC's provide services to people living with mental illness. Based on CDC estimates, adults with mental illness consume about 41% of all tobacco products. 

Here you will find training materials related to the effects of tobacco use. This includes presentations by Dr. Okoli and a testimonial of a teenage Juul user from North Carolina.

These additional resources include the Stanford Tobacco Prevention toolkit, BREATHE's online tobacco treatment specialist training, and a link to the Truth Initiative project.

View tools for health care providers to help patients using tobacco begin tobacco dependence treatment and the tools for those using tobacco who want to quit.

Here you will find media resources including a PSA series about teenage Juul use and a brief KET segment about tobacco dependence treatment being essential to mental health recovery.

Psychiatric Nursing Care Across the Life Span

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association and APNA Kentucky Chapter 2017 Annual Conference presented PSYCHIATRIC NURSING CARE ACROSS THE LIFE SPACE on March 24 at Embassy Suites in Lexington, Kentucky. 

BH WELL team members presented on a number of topics: 
“Understanding Dual Diagnosis: Intellectual Disability and Mental Health” Dr. Dianna Inman 

RN to BSN Work Learning Program Orientation

The RN to BSN Work Learning Program Orientation was held at Eastern State Hospital in October 2017. Work Learning cohort members learned of library and writing support and spent time getting to know one another and their Peer Tutor. In addition, the cohort were experienced a Speed Meet and Greet where they had one-on-one time to get to know RN to BSN online faculty.