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Wichita State University Community Engagement Institute - ACEs Connection (KS)

Kansas ACEs Connection is dedicated to connecting and supporting organizations, systems, and communities who are interested in better understanding the prevalence of ACEs and trauma, recognizing the impact that these have on individual and organizational health, and developing policies and practices that promote resiliency and healing.

Building a Trauma-Informed - and Resilient - Health Department (Part 1)


One of the reasons that our team wanted to create this online community was so that we can share the stories of our amazing partners from across the state who are learning more about how traumatic stress impacts their organizations and the people who they work with and alongside.  

The team at the Barton County Health Department in Great Bend, KS started their journey back in 2016. Over the next couple of weeks, Health Department Administrator, Shelly Schneider, shares their experiences both at the organizational and community level.

"We are coming up on our second anniversary of becoming a Trauma Informed/Aware Health Department and we couldn’t be prouder of the changes we have made, both small and large.

Thinking back to the first time our team was introduced to Trauma Informed Systems of Care training through Wichita State University's Community Engagement Institute, I am still mesmerized at getting to witness the light bulb moments the team was experiencing.  The glow from our conference room was unforgettable.  We were learning about Trauma Informed science as well as healing some of our own Organizational Trauma.  While working through all of this, we found more things, thoughts, and ideas to unify with and trust and support for each other has blossomed.

Once the knowledge was gained by our team, we talked about how we wanted to become more Trauma informed not only in the hands-on care we provide, but at every level of our organization.  We learned that changing our lobby allowed our clients to feel more secure in their wait.  We revised our Client Satisfaction Survey to reflect a more trauma informed approach to reviewing how we were meeting their needs.  We took down the “No Cell Phones” and “Quiet” signs down and replaced them with a TV that has educational information, calendar of events and positive images and quotes to change the mood of the lobby as well alleviate the stress associated why some people come to our office.  We also developed a Children’s area with a few chairs around it so parents can fill out paperwork and the children can play with our toys.  When we have a parent visibly struggling to get the papers filled out, we offer some assistance with their children.  The parents can always say no but having the option to have help just lessens the stress associated with our visits.

Another change that has been helpful is letting people know “what to expect” when they come to visit.  We have learned that with some very easy changes to the way that we offer our services, we have let the people that come to our clinic remain in charge of their situation rather than be dictated to.

These changes have also changed our team.  We are seeing ways to implement Trauma Awareness in so many different methods.  We are also aware of where some of these changes should be made in our community.  We are all very aware that we have not checked Trauma Informed off our list but have integrated Trauma Aware into the fabric of how we are, both professionally and personally.

I am so excited to see how we will continue to flourish in our Trauma Aware efforts, but ore importantly, how we can impact our community in a caring and positive manner."

Shelly Schneider, BSN RN

Barton County Health Department

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