HOUSTON (November 10, 2023)

Memorial Hermann Health System has launched Code Lilac, a multidisciplinary peer-to-peer support program designed to offer emotional support to workforce members who have experienced stressful patient- or work-related events. It’s among the largest and most robust hospital-based peer responder programs in the country.

Code Lilac began at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in 2015 after staff members attended a workshop on vicarious trauma. They realized that while they loved the work they did, it took quite an emotional toll on them. After hearing about peer support at another institution, some participants began developing a peer support program of their own to promote a culture of resilience and care. The program was expanded system-wide at Memorial Hermann in March 2022. 

Currently, more than 400 Code Lilac volunteer peer responders are part of 17 teams that represent many disciplines within Memorial Hermann and are trained in psychological first aid to provide compassionate, nonjudgmental, non-punitive and confidential support to colleagues. In addition to on-site support provided by peer responders, there is also a 24/7 Code Lilac hotline that is accessible to all employees, physicians and workforce members.

“We developed Code Lilac to give our workforce a confidential space to talk to their peers about what is troubling them,” said Laura Salazar-Hopps, chaplain manager of Code Lilac for Memorial Hermann. “They experience a high degree of emotional trauma exposure all the time, including difficult cases and cumulative stress. Code Lilac gives distressed health care workers the opportunity to talk to a colleague who understands and can help them better deal with what they are going through.” 

Any employee, physician or workforce member may request support either for themselves or their team. Code Lilac supports health care professionals around such stressors as patient deaths, critical incidents, burnout, workplace violence and other challenges. Code Lilac peer responders have provided support to more than 10,000 colleagues since the program’s launch, through individual and group support sessions in the aftermath of stressful events.