This story was selected as a winner during our 2018 summer story contest. It was submitted by Kristen Osborne, Milieu Manager at KVC Wheatland Hospital in Hays, KS. KVC Wheatland Hospital provides inpatient/acute and residential psychiatric treatment for children ages 6-18 who are experiencing depression, anxiety, trauma, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, or other behavioral health challenges.
The Heart of Our Work Is Helping People
Before I became a Milieu Manager, I worked as a Behavioral Health Technician for our residential psychiatric treatment center. During this time, there was a teen girl admitted, who I will call Andrea for confidentiality purposes, and I want to share our story with you.
Andrea didn’t have very good behavior and was often explosive. She struggled to have positive interactions with other clients her age and could be difficult for staff to take care of. On the other hand, she was extremely protective of the clients who were younger than her. My bleeding heart knew Andrea needed love, so I started working on interventions with her and she eventually asked me to be her mentor.
Collaboration Is Key to Our Progress
Andrea’s therapist was Ms. Sarah, who is amazing! Ms. Sarah educated me on trauma-informed care so that I could help Andrea in the best ways possible. Over time, I found that Andrea has a passion for animals so I would take my dog JJ, a small black fur-ball mutt, to the facility to spend time with her. Andrea loved taking JJ on walks and to the dog park. You could see the joy in her face when she was around animals and her overall demeanor seemed calmer.
Our Character Is Built on Authenticity and Compassion
When it was time for Andrea to leave our facility, I was so happy for her but also knew I would miss her. The night before she left, I wrote her a series of letters to take with her.
Each envelope had a title:
- Read me when you’re discharged.
- Read me when you’re sad.
- Read me when you think you messed up.
- Read me when you’ve had a good day.
- Read me when you’ve done something you’d want to share with me.
When it was time for her to leave, she gave me a big hug and wouldn’t let go. It was so hard on both of us. The most difficult part of my job is getting close to the kiddos we care for and not always knowing what happens to them after they leave. But with Andrea, I was blessed with a surprise update on how she was doing.
Finding Closure in Her Happiness
Some time had passed since Andrea’s departure. I was on our KVC Facebook page and saw that KVC had shared her adoption video, and she looked incredibly happy! That video was closure for me because I know Andrea’s doing well!
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