SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Gateway Board Plans Next Steps
By Mike Youngblood


April 25, 2008

I read with disappointment and dismay the article in the April 16th Ketchikan Daily News concerning the status of and plans for Gateway Center for Human Services. I feel I must respond to some of the points noted in that article.

Anytime an organization experiences a flood of resignations over a period of years, one must ask oneself, what is the reason? One or two bad employees, or even a few, cannot bring an organization like Gateway to its knees.. but bad management most certainly can.

I have seen an example of the type of caseload report that was noted in the article. The one I saw did not account for the fact that one or more clinicians were on vacation or were on sick time during the time period being analyzed. Surely if an employee is out of the office for 3 of the 5 days being analyzed, their time spent seeing clients will not be high, however this statistical model makes no allowance for that. As they say, you can make statistics show whatever you want them to show.

I have some questions that the Board might want to consider as they make their decisions over the next few months.

Who determines how much time the clinicians spend in meetings, during which time of course they cannot be seeing clients? Certainly the clinicians do not schedule their own staff meetings; they attend the meetings they are called to attend.

Who made the decision to make the clinicians type their own reports, rather than dictating them? This decision alone forced the clinicians to spend numerous hours as typists, during which time they could not see clients. Over the last approximately 2 years they have had transcription services available to them only for a few brief months.

Who defines the number of intakes the clinicians will see each week? The clinicians do not schedule their own new intakes. The clinicians cannot and do not refuse to see the intakes that are assigned to them.

Who determines the type and amount of reporting and paperwork that the clinicians must perform? All the time working on this paperwork is time not spent with clients.

The answer to all the above questions is the same Management.

If the clinicians are not spending enough time face to face with the clients, it seems pretty easy to me to discern the reason.

I am not a current or former employee of Gateway, however I have lived with one for approximately two years. Regardless what else is said about these issues, I can tell you with certainty that at least one clinician has spent untold numbers of hours working through lunches, working late into the evenings, working on weekends, in order to get the paperwork and reporting burden completed. None of these hours show up on the caseload reports that were discussed with the Board.

I also know that approximately 2 years ago there were 6 Gateway employees sharing the on-call responsibilities. Now there is one. I know that when one clinician resigned she had 15 on-call days in one month. Under Gateway s policies no one is compensated for the on-call duties. Unfortunately, the one remaining clinician now has all the on-call responsibilities. I suspect there will be one more employee joining the flood of resignations very soon.

The Board member who believes that these are employees not doing their jobs should talk face to face with the very few remaining employees, and the large population of former employees, rather than getting her information from management. It is easy to blame people who are no longer there.

Gateway used to provide services that are much needed by the community. It is not the clinicians or other current or former employees who have determined the fate of this organization it is the management. The captain of the ship is responsible for everything that happens on the ship. Gateway s ship is sinking; it is a skeleton waiting to fall down. Blame the current and former employees if you like, but understand, they were the crew, not the captain.

Michael Youngblood
Ketchikan, AK

Received April 25, 2008 - Published April 25, 2008



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