This story was selected as a winner during our 2017 summer story contest and was submitted by an employee at KVC Prairie Ridge Hospital in Kansas City, Kan.
KVC Prairie Ridge Hospital is a children’s psychiatric hospital in Kansas City, Kan. that helps youth ages 6-18 through some of the most difficult and scary times of their lives. We regularly accept clients that other hospitals will not or cannot accept if clients’ behavioral health issues are too severe for them to handle. This means that our staff must go above and beyond to care for those clients, knowing that we have to help them become healthy when no other facility can help them.
Last summer we had a young client at the hospital named David.* He had extensive needs and had trouble communicating with staff, making it difficult to treat and comfort him.
One evening David became upset during a visit from his family and started screaming, thrashing on the floor and running up and down the halls. He was at his wit’s end and wasn’t able to communicate how he felt in a healthy way. He threw himself against walls and doors to the point that we thought he might harm himself. Several of our staff tried to work with him to keep him safe, but he refused to calm down. Even David’s family who had come to visit him was unsure of how to help him. During this time, I heard someone say, “Call Mr. Melvin.”
Mr. Melvin is a member of our housekeeping staff. He is always busy with his regular duties of emptying trash bins, cleaning the floors, and finishing maintenance around the facility. He is constantly being called all over campus to deal with spills and accidents. He seems to always be there when I arrive in the mornings and is still there when I leave at night. Mr. Melvin has one of the most thankless jobs at the hospital, yet he handles his duties with a kind attitude and an ever-present smile. He knows that keeping the hospital in order is how we can all help the children and teens in our care experience a clean, welcoming place to heal. Mr. Melvin greets his co-workers and our clients by name every day. Seeing Mr. Melvin is one of the highlights of my day, as I’m sure it is for many others as well.
Within moments of David being dysregulated, someone had requested Mr. Melvin’s assistance via radio, and he responded to our location. When he saw David wailing and throwing his body against the walls, he set everything else aside and started talking to him. The change in David was immediately apparent. He became quiet and calm, and he reached his small hand up to Mr. Melvin, who took it in his. The two of them walked up and down the hall for a bit. You could tell from the contented expression on Mr. Melvin’s face that he was happy to be there, in spite of what other work he still had to complete before going home for the evening. Mr. Melvin, being the wonderful person he is, formed a strong relationship with David and helped him to know he was safe. At that moment, Mr. Melvin was the only person on campus who could help little David become regulated again. It was amazing and humbling to watch the two of them interact.
The hospital environment can be a stressful one. Demands on our staff are high, the hours are long and patience can often grow thin. Not everyone is capable of working in such a setting. We are constantly reminded of how important it is that everyone on our staff be willing to provide clients with trauma-informed care and creative methods of treatment, even though it can be hard to fulfill those expectations day after day. That’s why it is so refreshing to work with someone like Mr. Melvin, who thoroughly embodies the KVC values of respect, integrity, teamwork, accountability, flexibility, continuous improvement and open, honest communication. Mr. Melvin treats clients as though they were his own children. Employees like Mr. Melvin are what set KVC Prairie Ridge Hospital apart from other psychiatric facilities, and we are lucky to have him on our team.
*Name has been changed and a stock photo has been used to protect David’s identity.
If you would like to provide a meaningful impact in the lives of children, teens and families consider joining our team! View positions and apply at www.kvc.org/careers.