These past weeks have been tumultuous for everyone including the many MHA Westchester clients living all over the county. Through it all, MHA staff has continued to meet and be available to all clients, including those in supported houses, adult homes, clinics and the Sterling Community Center. It has been business as usual-yet there was nothing usual about it. Here, some of the week’s powerful stories.
• ACT, our mobile treatment team, flashlights in hands found that a number of clients they visited had barricaded themselves in their homes. Fearful in the dark and the cold, cut off from news, their worry and anxiety was amplified. Said one of the team: “I know it is the trusting relationship we have built through many visits that finally helped them relax and open their doors.” Once inside, staff assessed food, medication and other needs.
• On one visit, our psychiatric nurse discovered that a client hadn’t eaten in two and a half days because all shops nearby were closed. She drove to a friend’s deli where several sandwiches were procured for a very grateful man.
• A case manager received a call at 11:30pm from one client, saying, “I’m scared!” She was so glad to receive the call; glad he reached out and shared what was happening so she could help.
• Another case manager reported that some clients turned inward, experiencing secondary trauma and the return of very difficult symptoms. When necessary, additional medications were prescribed. One staff person drove to a pharmacy several towns away because the local one had no power.
• One of our newer nurses shared, “I have worked in many places, but I have never met so many good-hearted, caring people as here at MHA.”
• Yet another said: “I stocked my car with extra jackets from my own home because I knew several clients didn’t have one.”
• From our Long Term Care Ombudsmen Program (LTCOP) we learned that one nursing home had lost power and 75 residents were moved to hotels and motels.
• When the phones went down at two clinics, the staff at central intake stepped up. Calls were rerouted to the main office and cell phones used so that the clinics could continue to operate.
• Staff arranged transportation and shelter for residents who lost power at one of our supported houses--some went to a shelter, others to family.
All of these responses and more executed by MHA staff each of whom had their own challenges and family needs resulting from Sandy--yet put their clients first. For more information about MHA Westchester or referrals, go to www.mhawestchester.org or call 914-345-5900.
MHA’s holiday gift program, Operation Holiday Joy, is underway. If you would like to participate, write development@mhawestchester or call Connie Moustakas at 914-345-5900 x 7511.