Frontline Worker Spotlight—Seth Hall
Seth, Administrative Assistant, shares his perspective from behind the desk at the ASU and tells of one patient that made a lasting impression with his arduous journey.
As behavioral health workers, we see a lot of clients coming through these doors every year. It isn’t easy working with people during what is surely one of the most difficult transitions they will ever endure. But, what can be even harder is seeing those clients who keep returning, over and over again. They show up. They clean up. Maybe from here they go to a sober house or a residential program and they put some sobriety time together. Then one day we get a referral from an emergency room or the BH Link and there it is; there’s that name again; there’s that individual again, staring at the whole process over again.
At the Acute Stabilization Unit we have a number of such clients. In a way, they’re almost like family. They come here because they don’t have a home to go to. They don’t have anyone left in their life to take them, but they know they have us. And, as difficult as it can be to watch a person repeating the same mistakes over and over, it’s hard not to be happy when some of our repeat customers show up because everybody here genuinely likes these people—a lot. I can’t count the number of times I’ve told a returning guest, “Hey, it’s great to see you!” followed by an awkward moment of silence, followed by laughter from both of us, followed by “Not great to see you HERE, I mean, but yeah, great!”
George (not his real name) was one of these patients. A smart, friendly and pleasant young man. He nevertheless struggled for years with addiction and homelessness. We saw George come through the ASU several times over a period of years, sometimes discharging to sober houses, sometimes back to the street.
Then, one night while I was out grocery shopping, a young man approached me and said hello. I blinked. It was George. It had been several months since he last came through the ASU, and he looked like a different person. He was well-dressed and he looked happy and relaxed. He told me that after leaving the ASU for the last time, he’d finally resolved to do things differently. He’d gone to a sober house, made a commitment to go to meetings and got a sponsor. He said he’d approached me because he wanted me to pass on to the rest of the staff how grateful he was for all we’d done for him, all those times he’d passed through our unit.
By coincidence, I saw George again less than a week later when he showed up at the ASU, but not as a patient this time. He was there to drop off some clothes for a client of his. Turns out not only was his sobriety doing great, he’d actually become a peer advisor and he was mentoring other young adults who were reaching out for help with addiction and now one of the young men he was working with was here at the ASU for stabilization. He acknowledged how weird it felt, being on the other side of things for once. I told him it felt funny for me too, seeing him there like that, and we laughed about it. Most of the time, we don’t get to see our most successful cases, because part of that success means they never show up here ever again, but as long as there are clients out there who are still struggling, it’s nice to know our doors will be open for them.” —As told by Seth Hall