INsight into Agression Intervention at IU Health

The MESH Coalition is pleased to share our latest edition of our Insight Article, an interview with Joe Anderson, the Director of Protective Services for the Academic Health Center, IU Health. After 25 years of honorable service within the Washington Township (Marion County), Indianapolis and Whitestown Fire Departments (Chief of Department for Washington and Whitestown), he has diligently served the IU Health community for 6 years. In his position at IU Health, Joe is responsible for the strategic vision and priorities for safety, which includes the environment of care and emergency management, police and parking programs for Methodist, Morgan, University, Riley and Saxony hospitals and multiple ambulatory, offsite and administrative buildings within the academic health center. With IU Health being a major organization in the Indianapolis healthcare field, their primary community partners are the Marion County Health providers, The MESH Coalition, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Marion County Sheriff’s Department, Prosecutors Office, Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services, District 5 Healthcare Coalition, and Indiana Department of Homeland Security.


In his 6 years at IU Health, Joe has created numerous policies and procedures to make his work community a safer place. Through his oversight of the Academic Health Center Police Department and being a member of an administrative committee that is focused on reducing workplace violence against nurses, Joe assisted in developing a special program that has been implemented into his workplaces. This special program is the Aggression Prevention and Behavioral Alert Program (APT). These APT’s are a tiered base response utilizing interdisciplinary responders to de-escalate threatening behavior within the hospitals they serve. These teams are trained to diffuse and de-escalate situations resulting from patient or visitor grievances; while keeping team members safe and offering them continuing support as needed. The resources required to effectively execute the APT Program are a team member trained in de-escalation techniques, another who can provide safety and security and a third member to support staff. Joe sees this team having the ability to be utilized in the field at triage sites, shelters, family re-unification or treatment centers. 


Initially, this program was intended to reduce the violence against nurses in an inpatient setting. However, as Joe, his clinical partner Deb Fabert and other APT program leaders tracked the program’s success, they came to the realization that it is applicable anywhere staff may be threatened by the escalating behaviors of others. Since its inception, the program has marked results in resolving patient and visitor issues reducing assaults against staff. Furthermore, there is improved workplace advocacy, staff awareness and fewer employee assaults as compared to national trends. Nationally estimates of violence against nurses has increased by as much as 40%, IU Health nursing assaults have decreased by 12%.


When Joe isn’t creating a safer and secure environment, you can find him traveling the country with his wife, Beth, of 32 years. He also enjoys playing a round of golf and hitting the open road on his motorcycle in his free time. The MESH Coalition appreciates our years of partnership with IU Health and Joe Anderson and look forward to many more to come.

Stephanie SullivanComment