SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


By Elisa Rossi Max


April 25, 2008

After reading a recent article about Gateway Center for Human Services in which the clinicians were described as people not doing their job, I feel compelled to respond. I worked at Gateway from June 19, 2006 to April 4, 2008 as a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. During that period, I was on-call at least one week per month. The on-call days were not as the newspaper indicated ( a full eight hour shift ), but instead were full twenty-four hour shifts, beginning Friday at 5:00pm and ending the following Friday at 5:00 pm for a total of one hundred sixty eight hours. As clinical staff vanished, the on-call responsibilities increased. In March 2008, I was on-call for fifteen days or three hundred sixty hours due to clinician shortage! While on-call, I could be awakened in the middle of the night and required to go to the hospital to see a patient. I could not go out of cell phone range since I had to be able to receive calls and go to the hospital immediately. I could not go boating, fishing, or hiking if it meant going out of phone range. I could not relax when at a restaurant since I might have to leave suddenly.

In the article, the statistical model used to depict clinician's time spent during a 40-hour week is inaccurate. Categories were omitted and values were manipulated to produce predetermined results. The fact is the paperwork required from clinicians was excessive. I frequently worked overtime through lunches, at night, and weekends to get caught up. Significant amounts of time were spent entering data into Citrix and AKAIMS, typing progress notes, preparing clinical staff notes, attending required staff meetings, going to CSP (chronically mentally ill client) staff meetings, consulting with substance abuse treatment staff, completing insurance forms, updating Spreadsheets, etc. Clinicians typed their own initial assessments, which took many hours. (For very brief periods, I was able to dictate my assessments.) I also often performed psychological evaluations, which were not dictated. These entailed administering the tests, scoring them, entering the data into the computer, interpreting results, and typing the report with a full Axis V Diagnoses, and treatment recommendations for the client. Sometimes, I appeared in Court to testify regarding the testing.

Of course, time spent in Court or on the telephone to the Court, attorneys, the Office of Children s Services, or any other business related calls would not show anywhere on the model of clinician time. Neither would the model show time spent writing letters for clients--e.g. to document their attendance in therapy, to help them qualify for Social Security or Medicaid Waiver benefits, etc. These tasks were time consuming, but were part of my job responsibilities and were very important to my clients. In fact, I am proud to say that I have received compliments on my reports, my testimony in Court, and my help obtaining benefits for deserving clients. In contrast, the management at Gateway had zero appreciation of my work.

It is painful for me to read that I am part of a group of people not doing their job. I gave my best to Gateway. I worked many, many, hours overtime and on-call without additional pay. I tolerated a hostile work environment and witnessed my colleagues reprimanded for silly reasons. I cannot tell you how many times my co-workers cried in my office because of the way they were treated by management. I was devastated when Camielle Call (Executive Director) resigned. She was able to eliminate the work hostility for the short time she was there. I know Camielle would have been able to turn Gateway around if she had been supported in her efforts to do so.

When I read a newspaper article like this April 16th one, I feel another slap in the face. I no longer work at Gateway and at some point the feelings of sadness will leave. Ultimately, I will get on with my life. I will not continue to plead for change. I can only hope that someday we will see true concern for the community s mental health needs and the essential positive regard for the people who provide those services.


Elisa Rossi Max, Ph.D.
Ketchikan, AK

Received April 25, 2008 - Published April 25, 2008


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