SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Gateway Human Services' Revolving Door
By Beth Antonsen


March 17, 2008
Monday PM

There has been a huge turnover in directors at Ketchikan Gateway Human Services and the services there are very important. There are several unsung heroes at Gateway and for the most part it is a tough job working there. Dealing with people and their plethora of problems can be very draining. I am speaking as an 8 year employee at Gateway. My job was phased out 6 years ago. The rewards where getting to help people and see them achieve positive goals in their lives.

Some of the employees who I worked with were heroes to me. Kathy Evans works tirelessly to provide services to chronically mentally ill individuals. Sharon Boatwright is another and Marilyn Smeltzer. In the billing dept. Joyce Ludwigsen comes to mind, and Patty Hauser, a mental health clinician who just left to go north. Cara Thomson and Judy Heimrich, my bosses at different times, were both excellent supervisors and had endless empathy for people receiving services.

The downhill slide began when Jean Book retired. The person that replaced Dr. Book did more tearing down than building and by the time my job ended the place was demoralized. Since then, for whatever reason, directors have not stayed. Perhaps the people that work at Gateway ought to have more of a say as to who gets hired and the new boss should have a 6 month evaluation that the employees get to participate in. When Judy Heimrich was the head of the CSP program she let those of us under her voice an opinion on who she should hire as a new coworker. Ultimately it was her decision but we had a voice.

For myself Gateway was very helpful when I needed their services. I was treated well as a service user and got counseling advice that has helped greatly. Gateway is still needed in this community especially when we have high unemployment and too many jewelry stores clogging downtown. For all the loss of trees that the Mental Health Trust has taken from this island and surrounding areas we ought to at least maintain a healthy mental health agency and someone should get to the bottom of the revolving door.

Perhaps those in charge of hiring could take Judy Heimrich's approach and include the workers in the outcome by listening to their concerns about previous bosses and letting them have a voice when it comes to hiring the next director or firing the next dud.

Beth Antonsen
Ketchikan, AK

About: " Lifelong resident of Ketchikan - onetime mental health worker and occasional user of services."

Received March 17, 2008 - Published March 17, 2008


Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:

letter Webmail Your Opinion Letter to the Editor



Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


E-mail your letters & opinions to
Your full name, city and state are required for publication.

SitNews ©2008
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska