A hero’s last day

In the four years of writing NewsCut, I’ve only encountered a conflict of interest once. It was this post — the story of a couple forced into homelessness because of a health crisis. They were my wife’s “clients.” She’s a “health care navigator” for an innovative program called the East Metro Crisis Stabilization Program, founded by HealthPartners and Regions Hospital in 2002 “to address the unmet needs of adults who experience a mental health crisis.”

My wife, Carolie, and the people who work in the program, were the answer to the prayers of the most desperate people among us, people who were in no position to navigate the byzantine world of human services and health care in Minnesota. Its goal was what everyone said they wanted: early intervention and help to prevent high costs later.

For years, she’s come home with stories of the people she helped — saved, really — one at a time. In the morning, she’d pick up the homeless, mentally-ill teen who’d been sexually abused, and get her health care, food, and a home by nightfall, for example. The program team then focused on long-term help.

When she told her stories, I’d confide my inadequacy by saying, “I wrote a blog today.”

When the bureaucrats slammed the doors in the face of people who needed a hand (and they did, often by ignoring the rights and rules they knew the downtrodden wouldn’t know), she knew all the angles to open them again. She was the Radar O’Reilly for the helpless.

“I’m off to do battle with the forces of evil,” she’d joke when she left the house each day.

Dakota, Ramsey, and Washington counties, the Department of Human Service, social service groups all joined the program. Other counties in the state wanted to know how she — and they — did it because it made so much sense, got help for the most vulnerable people few cared about, and saved money in the process.

Today, she went to work the way she always does, a little mischief in her heart, a plan to help people who need help, and a smile on her face, even though it’s the last day she’ll have the job.

carolie_emacs_rip.jpg

Officials pulled the plug on the program and the “mobile crisis team” and it closes it down today.

They are the heroes who walk among us, make a difference, and deserve a few minutes of recognition for the work they did in relative obscurity.

They’re the people who gave a damn about someone other than themselves.

  • Wally

    Best of luck to her, your family and, most of all, all the people who will have one less helping hand come tomorrow.

    It all comes back to priorities and the things this nation has chosen to save during these past few years will have the lot of us damned by future generations.

  • This is NOT lucy

    “They are the heroes who walk among us, make a difference, and deserve a few minutes of recognition for the work they did in relative obscurity.

    They’re the people who gave a damn about someone other than themselves.”

    and

    “When the bureaucrats slammed the doors in the face of people who needed a hand (and they did, often by ignoring the rights and rules they knew the downtrodden wouldn’t know), she knew all the angles to open them again. She was the Radar O’Reilly for the helpless.”

    That is no understatement and these kinds of people who abuse and oppress go to great lengths to silence those who can see through them and their agenda.

    These brave people, who advocate for those who are oppressed and downtrodden are very rare, indeed, and much appreciated! Thank you for sharing your very touching story.

  • Allie

    Kudos to your wife, Bob, and the unnamed thousands who do important work like this, often with no recognition. They truly make the world go ’round.

  • mb

    A heartfelt e-thank you to your wife and those like her who do the real work in life. Pushing spreadsheets and documents around do not lead to fulfillment that your wife felt, and hopefully will continue to feel, everyday.

  • Jim Shapiro

    I’m not real clear on this “hero” thing, but I do understand chess pretty well.

    How is it that a queen of compassion and kindness is forced to stop HELPING pawns

    while in another game, a pawn who KILLS a lot of other pawns gets a medal?

    What psychopath made THOSE rules up?!?

  • Jamie

    I reemember you mentioned this before, Bob, that this was going to happen. I’m sorry to hear that the program wasn’t “rescued” as I had hoped.

    Thank you, Mrs. News Cut*, for the important work you did. I hope you get to continue the work elsewhere, and soon.

    Maybe there’s a place for you at the MN Dept. of Human Services, where they could learn from you how to make their system and services more managable and accessible to those like your former clients. I know that many people there ARE interested in doing so, even if they seem like just the un-navigable kind of monster you were battling before. In fact, I think I’ve seen job openings there that described just this sort of thing.

    *I am not inclined to ever use “Mrs. (Husband’s Name)”, but Mrs. News Cut is still just too funny.

  • Terry Driggers Roberts

    God Bless you Carolie for all that you have done to help those in need. Wish I was there to give my college pal a hug today!! Love to you and yours! Terry

  • Mrs. News Cut

    Mrs. News Cut is overwhelmed by this blog, the warm responses, etc. It has been a great ride, a fabulous experience, and although East Metro Adult Crisis Stabilization (EMACS) closed their doors today the individuals that made up the team will still be among the many wonderful people on the front lines working to make the path to help and recovery a smoother one. The real heroes are those who need help to survive, ask for it (an extremely humbling experience for anyone), and accept it with grace. With their example deeply imbedded in my heart, who am I to lose hope? Time for me to find the back door!

    *Jamie.. not a fan of the Mrs. thing either, but love being Mrs. News Cut.

  • Lily

    Hats off to EMACS and their futuristic work…I mean that they are ahead of their time!!

    Shame on Ramsey County and DHS for closing their doors. When something works, please don’t end it!!! Especially when it is cost effective!

    The most vulnerable amongst us need you–and will do without what you have offered. There is no service (not peer mentors…please…) who can fill that gap.

    Godspeed to Mrs. News Cut and to fellow displaced EMACS Professionals. The world needs more “doers” like you all…..

    Lily…a Mental Health Professional

  • Linnea

    Hugs to you Carolie, who I am proud to call my friend, for all you have done fighting the evil forces of government red tape!

    A kick in the rear to the fools who put an end to a program that actually helped people rather than further complicating their lives–

  • Roxanne

    Thank you EMACS…you helped my family in a time of need when there was no where else to turn….Gracias…..

  • http://google Cheryl Collins

    I feel so inadequate, Mrs. Newscut. Your job was so much more important than mine!!!

    Good job!

  • Nanci Fine

    I’ve known Mr. and Mrs. News Cut for more years than I can count and all i can say is that Mrs. News Cut will find a way back into the system and kick their a**es….as she does with anyone else that messes with the important things in her life….love you Carolie…

  • GG

    Congratulations, Mrs. News Cut, for work well done and well-deserved praise. Who knows? This may also be the beginning of something even greater. Staying tuned.

  • Kathy

    I know Mrs. News Cut will be back! Her work is not finished…..

  • RuthCollins

    And I am lucky to have Mrs Newscut for a daughter in law