Alison Flaherty

Aug. 25, 2022
A photo of Alison Flaherty
Alison Flaherty

Taking care of each other, just-in-time

Alison Flaherty was driving home from work one night when she noticed people pulled over and someone lying on the ground.

She recalled a lesson from nursing school, to pull over if there is an accident. So that’s exactly what she did. She stopped and helped.

Flaherty, a registered nurse at UCHealth Memorial Hospital North’s mother/baby unit, jumped right in, offering to give aid and help those who were already on the scene of the accident.

“There were other people there, people who were asking, “Can I do anything? Can I switch out?” Flaherty said. “A lot of people were volunteering to help.”

It was only after EMS arrived that Flaherty learned many of those volunteers helping the accident victim were other UCHealth employees who were off-the-clock but still caring for others. A true testament to UCHealth staff.

The traumatic impact of the accident weighed heavy on Flaherty. She went home, certain that she could not go to work the next morning. While trying to process the events that had unfolded, Flaherty began reaching out to numerous UCHealth friends and colleagues.

She called her charge nurse, Kelly O’Brien. The first thing O’Brien said was, “Hey, can I get you the number to First Call?”

First Call is an internal program offered to all UCHealth employees. It’s a resource that’s available 24/7 for questions related to emotional well-being and work/life assistance. First Call is a place to receive just-in-time support after difficult moments and to connect with other resources.

Shortly after offering First Call, O’Brien provided Flaherty with the phone number of the peer support nurse working that evening.

Flaherty was able to talk with the peer support nurse right away, only hours after the accident. By receiving just-in-time support from multiple resources, Flaherty was able to process the evening’s events and ultimately made the decision to go to work the next morning.

“I’ve probably told the story like 20 times,” Flaherty said. “But processing it and getting it through my brain made a huge difference. It helped to talk about it over and over and over again.”

By going into work the following morning, Flaherty felt like she made a lot of progress mentally.

“Just being with my friends and people who support me no matter what,” Flaherty said. “I felt like it was the right decision to come to work.”

Flaherty didn’t realize just how many resources were available until she experienced the need herself. She’s grateful for the support of her UCHealth friends and colleagues who came together at the accident and who continue to support her in processing the aftermath.

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About the author

Christine Freer joined UCHealth as a communications specialist in 2022. Prior to joining UCHealth, Freer served as the lead public information officer at the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County. She spent the last 11 years working in public health, program management, and health care marketing and communications. Freer earned a Bachelor of Arts in public health promotion from Purdue University and a Master of Public Health in social marketing from the University of South Florida. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband, Jim, and their German shepherd, Lincoln.

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