Cynthia Persily, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dr. Persily is the CEO of Highland Hospital in Charleston, WV
It’s that time of year again! The pitter patter of little ghosts, goblins, witches and ninjas were gracing the halls of Highland Hospital today as all of our children took part in our annual Halloween parade through the hospital. I couldn’t help but be excited right along with the children as we saw them participating in a fun activity. But I was also excited for another reason—a sense of normalcy and that life goes on despite behavioral health problems.
Earlier this week, I visited with our children in our residential treatment facility. As I’ve discussed before in this space, this long term program is designed for children age 4-14 who have behavioral health problems and need a little more time to gain the skills to be able to transition back into their communities and families. Each time I visit I see more and more opportunities for us to make our environment feel like home to these children—because it is their home for a period of time. This week, I saw art work installed that we’ve purchased, and chalk boards painted onto walls, but more importantly, I also saw our children decorating their rooms with photographs from home, with their own art work, and with inspirational posters. I even had a good laugh at the dining rules that are written on the chalkboard in the dining room—one said “We don’t say Yuck”. I think I should have that rule posted on the wall of my own kitchen! As one of our little residents toured me through her room and told me about her art work, I was thrilled to see how she was working through some of her issues through expression in her art. But again I was struck with the sense of normalcy in an environment that is therapeutic.
Finally, I am thrilled that we have 2 teachers in our environment who are providing year round school for our children. As I looked at the classrooms that we’ve developed, and saw curriculum aids, computers, and evidence of the children’s school work, I was very proud of what we’ve accomplished, but more importantly of what our staff and our children together as a team are accomplishing. We’re helping a very vulnerable group of children gain the skills, competencies, and health needed to survive in a world that hasn’t always been positive for them. I can’t think of a better way to serve our community than to help a child thrive in our world. And, it’s what our staff members do every day. Bravo!