” You care about me?”

It was chilly fall evening when a patient presented to the ER via police, for concern of inability to care for herself after her boyfriend was arrested. Previous encounters with this patient lead staff to believe that she was choosing to be homeless, as it was reported that she walked out and refused to go back to a placement that was secured for her during a prior hospitalization.


Our dedicated ER Case Manager, Jason, in the ER did not feel right about sending this person back to the streets (no family/no support) and asked for a mental health evaluation, as well as, requested her to be screened by the Willamette Valley Medical Center’s, Senior Behavioral Health Unit (SBHU), asking us to “just talk to her”.  Although the phone call to screen came at 6:45pm on a Friday night, Erica, SBHU’s Intake coordinator, pleasantly agreed to go down to screen along with the unit manager, Alicia. After talking with her for a few minutes, it was apparent she had no way to care for herself, no one to care for her, and was a bit hopeless about her future. Alicia and Erica told her that “there are several people that cared about her and wanted to offer her support.” Her eyes filled with tears and she stated, “You care about me” giving a big full-hearted hug to Alicia.


When her case was presented to the on-call psychiatrist, he stopped and stated, “Alicia, human to human, what is the right thing to do?” to which she responded, “admit her” and he agreed. Erica stayed at least three hours over on a Friday night to make sure our lady was settled in and comfortable. WVMC Case Management Managers spent hours of their Friday night staffing the case with us, including vital information that was known from a previous admit. Once admitted, Linda, WVMC Social Worker, made several phone calls and discovered she had been recently treated for breast cancer, and was slated for surgery in Salem. The unit Psychiatrist, Dr. Anderson facilitated a surgical consult with WVMC’s Breast Specialist & General Surgeon,Dr. Giss. In the hours to come, Dr. Giss provided treatment to this woman, who days prior, believed she had no one in the world that cared about her.


Finally, Linda advocated and secured a court-appointed guardian (which is extremely difficult to obtain), which allowed for her to be placed in a memory care, as she was not able to care for herself.


On a cold fall evening the angels who work at Willamette Valley Medical Center had a homeless, sad, scared lady come to the ER. That same lady left forever changed with her emotional and medical needs addressed, a court appointed guardian and a safe, secure place to live for the remainder of her life.  She also left with a smile and a heart that was filled from the genuine love and care that she received from so many who treated her with the dignity and respect that she deserved.


Everyone knows the starfish story, that there are tens of thousands of starfish on the beach and throwing a few back in the ocean will not really make much of a difference, but the boy says, “It made a difference to that one” as he tosses it back in the ocean.  WVMC made a difference to this person’s life and that difference started the moment she realized that we really cared about her.  You Matter!  She felt this from the staff at WVMC.”