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SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

Employee Assistance Program

About the Employee Assistance Program

Some Background

One of the basic premises of Employee Assistance Programs is: Life is seamless. Meaning, we often bring our work problems home, and we often bring our personal problems to the workplace. When we enter our offices, we cannot and do not separate ourselves from our private lives. Therefore, whatever is occurring in our lives outside work, will have an impact on our work performance. This impact can be temporary short-lived, or it can be more troublesome, leading to a longer period of possible disruption to our work efforts.

Employee Assistance Programs came into existence around 1917. They were originally designed to help white collar employees who were exhibiting problems with alcohol, to help these employees get treatment and keep their jobs. When these programs were found to be successful in helping employees deal with their problems and return to being productive workers, the concept of helping employees became a popular one.

One of the first large businesses to have an E.A.P. was R.H. Macy. Macys E.A.P. began in 1940.

Since the early days of E.A.P.s, which dealt mostly with alcohol problems, the concept of the E.A.P. has evolved into one of a broadbrush approach. E.A.P.s today deal not only with alcohol and other drug problems, but also a variety of other issues which can cause loss of productivity in the workplace. Some of these problems are:

  • Financial problems
  • Legal problems
  • Mental/emotional problems
  • Domestic violence
  • Work / life concerns
  • Sexual harassment / affirmative action
  • Child and elder care concerns

The E.A.P. here at Downstate was initiated in 1984. It was and continues to be a joint venture between labor and management, with representatives from both comprising the E.A.P. Steering Committee.

The first Coordinator of SUNY Downstate E.A.P. was Joan Phillips, who retired in 1993 followed by Lorraine Brooks who retired in 2015. The current Coordinator, Magda Alliancin, is the third person to serve in this capacity at Downstate. Downstate is one of the few State facilities to have a full-time E.A.P. Coordinator. Most other State facilities, including some other SUNY campuses, have only part-time E.A.P. staff who divide their time between their E.A.P. responsibilities and other job titles.

What Does E.A.P. Do?

The E.A.P. provides resource information and referrals to anyone who is an employee, retiree, or family member of an employee of the SUNY Downstate Medical Center. The E.A.P. does not provide treatment, but rather is equipped to assess and evaluate the needs of individuals who present themselves for assistance. The E.A.P. staff will then make recommendations, offer information, and make referrals to appropriate providers where the employee can obtain the necessary treatment or assistance.

E.A.P.s work with a general core technology, which encompasses the kinds of work the E.A.P. does with different constituencies. The E.A.P. Core Technology, as defined by the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA), is as follows:

  • Consultation with, training of, and assistance to supervisory personnel in working with troubled employees
  • Confidential and timely assessment of problems
  • Use of constructive confrontation in dealing with troubled employees
  • Referral of the employee for diagnosis and treatment
  • Establishing effective relations with treatment providers
  • Identification of the effects of EAP on individual job performance