Ending the Cycle of Emergency Care

The Personal Touch – Creating Partnerships, Making Relationships

by Sydney Lester

Most clinicians and direct service workers are familiar with Tucker Psychiatric Pavilion.  It doesn’t need any explanation and often evokes images of long waits, frustrated patients and mental health crises. For many of the underinsured, Tuckers serves as their doctor’s office, providing emergency care in attempts to address their range of distresses.  For those who may not be quite as familiar, Tuckers is short hand for Tucker Pavilion – the emergency behavioral and mental health unit of Chippenham Hospital located in Chesterfield.

River City has held a long standing relationship with the staff at Tuckers through both bringing clients in for services, as well as receiving clients for follow up services.  Our Community Outreach Coordinator, Claude, has created a wonderful working relationship with the social work staff which was clearly evident in our recent meeting by one worker exclaiming, “So you’re the one I need to hug!” when they were discussing a recent patient whom Claude was able to place into an assisted living facility and who also when the extra mile to check in on.  Throughout our in-service meeting, the re-occurring theme that we were able to address was our dedication to providing services, with or without pay, to clients with clinical needs.

Jimmy Christmas, the founder of River City, shared a story of a recent referral from Tuckers who was a legally blind amputee who suffered from paranoia and had recently endured a case of bedbugs.  River City put this client up in a hotel while his room was fumigated, cleaned and restored to normalcy.  Again, the staff from Tuckers expressed their thanks (and some with a grateful disbelief) at our willingness to work with a client that many others may have deemed too troublesome to work with.  Sydney, our Director of Development, was able to give an update on the work that River City was doing to support the nonprofit, Focused Outreach Richmond.  While the staff at Tuckers works with those who have emergency situations, she was able to explain that the reentry population is also oftentimes their population as they come out of incarceration with a time frame of 30-90 days without benefits and are more vulnerable to life challenges.  Several staff expressed interested in the mentoring program that Focused Outreach Richmond will be starting for children of incarcerated parents and eagerly took business cards and brochures.

While we were able to share some of the great programs we are doing, we were also able to hear the needs of those working at Tuckers with the primary need being able to provide services to clients once they are discharged from emergency care.  All too often they see a service delivery gap as soon as their patients arrive back home.  And all too often, they seem the same patient again and again, cycling back through emergency services because they have not received appropriate community support.  We acknowledged their concerns and while some of these issues are systematic issues that won’t change overnight, the staff at Tuckers left the meeting knowing that one way or another River City will work with clients, pay or no, to help get them settled once they are back in the community.  If enough organizations will commit to providing services, creating partnerships and making relationships, we will eventually make a dent in the large systematic issues.  But until then, we will keep at it, making change one person at a time.