SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


By Ruth Bullock


April 27, 2008

As a former employee of Gateway Center for Human Services, and a former Ketchikan resident, it saddens me to hear of Gateway's apparent disintegration. It has been a couple of years now since I worked there, and it sounds like things have changed in that time. But I would like to comment on some of what I was aware of during my employment at Gateway.

First, I would question where the statistics came from which were quoted in a Daily News article on April 16, and how they were compiled. When I was hired at Gateway in 2002, Ron Adler was the director. Ron's
expectation was that we, the clinical staff, show 60% productivity in our time. That did not mean that only 60% of our time at the office had to be spent working. It meant that 60%, roughly five hours in an 8-hour
workday, had to be direct, billable time. This did not account for staff meetings, dealing with insurance companies, returning phonecalls, setting up appointments, collaborating with other agencies, and completing paperwork. With the remarkably skeletal staff which has been there recently, I found the statistic of 29.25% client time to be surprising. And questionable.

Second, if there have been reports of "bullying" in the work place, what happened to an investigation? It was mentioned in the article, and then not further discussed. Bullying in the workplace, if it has been occurring, or if there have been reports of it, is a pretty serious thing. Maybe it isn't necessary to look very far to figure out why everyone's resigning. Very few of us choose to stay in a job where we're belittled or bullied.

Third, I winced at Ms. Schofield's comment in the Daily News article regarding current employees feeling that "they're overworked, but...if we ran our own private business (like this), we wouldn't last." In my time at Gateway, I very rarely took call. I generally worked three-quarter time to avoid taking call. Like most of the other clinical staff at that time, I have a family, and city-wide on-call requires that the clinical staff at Gateway take turns being available for anyone in the community who might have a mental health emergency, day or night. Then, no matter how much time a staff member might put in during the night, there is no compensation, or equal time off during the next work day. On-call at Gateway, is an expected part of the job. In my time there it was a continual bone of contention among staff, and one which was unable to ever be resolved other than to be told it was our job as "professionals" to deal with it. I guess I agree, if private businesses in Ketchikan operated this way with their employees, they wouldn't last.

I remember one stormy night, while I was employed at Gateway. A transformer blew near our house. The power went out. And pretty soon I could hear the shouts of the KPU workers outside, working in the storm, trying to restore power. I don't know for sure, but my suspicion is that they weren't there that night working for free. But if, as city employees, they'd worked for Gateway instead of KPU, they would have received zero compensation for working most of the night. And their workday would have started at the normal time the next morning. Laziness, or poor work ethic, was not a problem at Gateway, at least from what I witnessed.

Fourth, during my time at Gateway, I had the pleasure of working for, and with, some wonderful professionals. People whom I relied on, and learned from, and to whom I would entrust the care of my own family members. I think I maintained my 60% productivity most of the time. And on weeks when I didn't, it was generally because of the way my hours were coded, and not that I was taking "breaks, lunch, and personal phone calls." My guess is that such was the case with most of the people there then, and now.

It will be interesting to see how things go from here, as far as Gateway is concerned. They have provided necessary services to Ketchikan for years. And it may be that only in Gateway's absence is the true value of those services recognized. I do hope that there are no more references to Gateway's staff being essentially lazy, with poor work ethics. It's offensive. And nothing could be further from the truth.

Ruth Bullock
Juneau, AK

About: "Former Ketchikan resident, and Gateway employee."

Received April 25, 2008 - Published April 27, 2008



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