Landrum Council approves employee assistance program

Published 7:32pm Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Landrum City Council voted unanimously on Jan. 14 to implement the Upstate Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for all city employees.

This program offers four sessions of free counseling on any issue that may arise for a city employee or the family member of a city employee, along with a 24-hour crisis line. EAP prevents, identifies and solves personal problems, said Caroline Trawick, director of EAP services.

Caroline Trawick, director of the Upstate Employee Assistance Program, addressed the Landrum City Council on Jan. 14. (photo by Kiesa Kay)
Caroline Trawick, director of the Upstate Employee Assistance Program, addressed the Landrum City Council on Jan. 14. (photo by Kiesa Kay)

The program helps with financial woes, depression or anxiety, workplace stress, marital woes, parenting issues, aging concerns, alcohol problems and drug issues.

“All our employees are valuable assets to us,” Mayor Robert Briggs said. “If they have problems, we want to help them get through that.”

“And it will save you money not to have to retrain and rehire,” Trawick added.

The program will cost the city $2,000 a year whether anyone uses it or not. Employees will be able to utilize the system for any combination of concerns, with four sessions free for each issue. Upstate asserts that benefits include a 56 percent lowered incident of workplace accidents, 33 percent less use of sick leave benefits and 35 percent decrease in health insurance expenses.

Individuals who respond to accidents and emergencies stand a good chance of knowing whoever’s having trouble in a town the size of Landrum, with its population of about 2,420. In a recent tragedy, Landrum first responders were related to the victim. First responders, firefighters and law enforcement officers know their neighbors. When a friend, family member or neighbor gets hurt, the cut into responders’ hearts can go deep. The desire to save a life magnifies. EAP utilization can ease that pain.

“We offer critical instance stress management services,” Trawick said. “Any time a traumatic event or traumatic call occurs, we can provide onsite debriefing. We work with first responders. Sometimes everybody needs somebody to talk to. Through different traumas, some people can develop post-traumatic stress, and we offer EMDR.”

EMDR, or eye movement desensitization reprocessing, works on the principle that the optical nerve links to the hippocampus, where memories live. By tapping into that memory base, trained therapists bring the traumatic memory to the foreground and change the difficulty of it, Trawick said.

A report published by Marsh McLennan Company surveyed 50 corporations, and the program received accolades for reducing drug and alcohol issues by 75 percent in the workforce of the companies it serves. Every six months, EAP will provide utilization reports.

“Sometimes friends get promoted over each other, and it’s a challenge,” Trawick said. “A friendship might compromise whether people refer someone who needs help. We put flyers in the back of the bathroom stalls, because that’s the most private place at work. People usually will pull a tab three months before actually calling for support.”

Questions arose concerning confidentiality.  If a therapist thinks a client might endanger self or others, Trawick said, then a report would be given immediately to a supervisor, but otherwise client confidentiality may be observed for the benefit of the employee and in adherence to HIPAA laws, which require client permission to divulge certain information.

Procedures will depend on city policy, she said. Landrum will have to write policies on usage of these new benefits, and EAP offered to help with that task.

“Policy is the backbone of procedure, and you’ll have to put in writing what we’re allowed to do,” Trawick said.
EAP also will provide free help for wills, estates, divorce situations, custody agreements and educational seminars.

“You’ll need to push and promote this so it won’t be a waste of your money,” Trawick said. “Match the policy language to your mission for time off or whatever the needs are.”

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