Story of the Month

 

The Peacemaker Program has a wide variety of services, but those services exist to serve the people of our community.  Every day, we encounter individuals and families who need our help.  We began our Story of the Month as a feature at our Staff Meetings, but have found that those we talk to never get tired of hearing about the difference our agency can make in someone's life.

We will be posting our Story of the Month for everyone to read.  Identifying details have all been changed, but the stories, and the people behind them, are real.

SDMC Panel Sustains Man's Quality of Life

     In fall of 2007 the Surrogate Decision Making Committee received an expedited case for a patient that was 72 years old and was having problems swallowing his food.

     This man’s primary care physician wanted consent for the placement of a feeding tube as the man had a long history of digestive issues.

     This man’s caregivers were very emotional at the SDMC hearing, because chances were that if consent were given for the tube’s placement, it was likely he’d be moved to a different facility or nursing home where they would be better equipped to provide care. It was apparent that the caregivers really loved this man. One nurse was in tears talking about the house staff’s relationship with him over the last 20 years.

     The caregivers testified that one of the few pleasures the man had was eating, and that he wouldn’t experience tasting his food or eating by mouth again if he were to get a feeding tube.

     After the panel asked questions from the caregivers and a doctor, they went into deliberation and decided that at this man’s age the tube was not in the man’s best interest and that he wouldn’t enjoy a good quality life after the procedure. The consent request was denied. After hearing the doctor’s testimony and then the SDMC panel’s decision, some thought this man’s time on Earth was nearly at an end.

     The SDMC panel’s decision was contested by the facility in Supreme Court and was upheld by the court.

     This case was seen in the fall of 2007, and the patient is still living today with the same health care provider. He is still being treated from time to time for his digestive issues, but still enjoys eating and tasting his food in the loving environment he has known for the past twenty years.

Children Reunite with Mother

     A mother of three girls, ages ten, eleven and thirteen had filed a petition to regain custody of her daughters. She had voluntarily surrendered her children several years earlier to her mother because she admittedly had a drug and alcohol addiction at that time and did not want to put her girls through the difficult time she was having. Several months and a rehabilitation program later the mother made another difficult decision to let her daughters stay with Grandma for fear of disrupting their seemingly happy lives. During visits over time, her daughters began to trust her again, and told her of some horrific things Grandma was doing to them.

     The counselors at school were aware of some of the issues and had called Child Protective Services many times. When the Caseworkers arrived at the home the girls always changed their story because they were afraid.

     The Volunteer Advocate went to the home and met with the little girls, the oldest of the three said she was scared to talk at her grandmothers house. The Volunteer promised to go to school to see them the next day. While speaking with the two oldest girls, the Advocate assured them that they Judge cares about them and wants them to be safe. The young girls began to tell the Advocate of the tortures they had been enduring over the last few years. They spoke of being emotionally and physically abused and the pain they felt. After their conversation the Advocate spoke with several of Mom’s friends, AA members, Social Workers and even the Housing Agency, whom were all a part of moms large support team. She was assured that mom was ready to get her girls back. Together they put a plan in place so the girls could come home to their Mother.

     The Volunteer Advocate prepared a report for the Family Court Judge and recommended the girls be returned to their mother immediately. The Judge and Attorneys were appalled at the things that had transpired, and agreed that the girls be reunited with their mother. Later that evening before the Child Custody Advocate went home for the Thanksgiving Holiday, she placed a call to the home of the Mother and her girls. When she asked Mom how the transfer went, Mom replied very well, but that Grandma had put the girls on the corner with their suitcases to be picked up. The children were now safe and well with Mom. When the Advocate spoke with the young girls they thanked her for listening to them and helping them to get home.

A Parent-Child Success Story

     Just before a staff meeting, I received a message that I had a call from a young girl. I asked my coworker to take a message. When I came out of the meeting, that girl was waiting in my office.

     After calming her down, I found out that she was originally in the area visiting a friend, but lived in Georgia. She was supposed to have been on a flight back home at noon, but since she was in my office at 11:30, that wasn’t going to happen. Her parents had threatened to have her arrested if she did not come home, and she was terrified at the thought of going to jail. After getting as much information as I could from the girl, I called her parents. They were furious upon learning that their daughter had chosen to stay in Rome, and were determined to call the police. At a break in the conversation, I asked "How does that solution benefit you, and how does it benefit your daughter?" The question stopped them cold. They finally realized that I wasn’t stepping in as an advocate for their daughter; I was offering them a chance to find solutions that worked for everyone. They agreed to give me one day to set up a mediation.

     The next day, we did a mediation with the girl, her girlfriend, her girlfriend’s parents, and her own parents (via phone). Over the course of nearly five hours, plans were made for school, jobs, clothes, travel, and more. The girl was going to stay in Rome, with the exception of family events like her sister’s birthday, for three months. Two weeks later, she reported being happier than she has been in years, and that she and her parents were actually talking. When the agreement expired, the family used the skills they had learned in mediation to work out a four-month extension, with few changes. The agreement they created is still helping to keep this family together today.