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Logansport State Hospital staff show heart with ‘Helping Hands’

LOGANSPORT – Anyone experiencing need in Cass County– from financial difficulties to food insecurity – should know that staff of Logansport State Hospital (LSH) care and are hoping to help.

Helping Hands CmteThe mental health facility’s "Helping Hands" Committee consists of administrators and staff members who pool ideas to come up with ways to assist people in need.

Pictured right: Staff of Logansport State Hospital began a community service effort called Helping Hands in January 2017. The 15-member committee seeks to help employees, patients and community members in need. Seen here are (left to right) Paula Green-Scheffer, Kathy Pattee, Darrin Monroe and Debb Middleton.

In much the way the "L.I.F.T." (Larson Incentives for Treatment) program is boosting patient and staff morale through community service work, ‘Helping Hands’ is quickly becoming a go-to effort by which the facility can help patients, fellow staff and residents in the Logansport/Cass County community.

Since establishing the project in January 2017, staff have collected cleaning supplies, held non-perishable food drives, and even contributed cash to fund holiday gifts for children who otherwise might have nothing to open Christmas morning.

They’ve outfitted kids with backpacks for school, put together baskets of goods for clients being released from LSH, and helped staff members on leave due to illness by giving them blankets created through L.I.F.T. and goods from the hospital’s pantry.

"It’s just to say, ‘Even though you’re not here, we’re thinking about you,’" said Debb Middleton, LSH account clerk.

"We really are just a special hospital, willing to take care of our own," added administrative secretary Paula Green-Scheffer.

Such generosity is one of the ties that perpetually binds staff at the Logansport facility who continually do what they can to support each other and the community in which they serve as often as possible.

"We give back to the community so much," said Darrin Monroe, an information specialist who has worked at LSH for 15 years.

Green-Scheffer, Middleton and Monroe are three members of the Helping Hands Committee, which also includes fellow longtime employee Kathy Pattee, the facility’s director of nursing services. Each has been touched by the generosity of their fellow employees, and all are working to make Helping Hands a cornerstone of LSH’s ever-expanding community service efforts.

Mike Busch, Director of Community Engagement for LSH, summed it all up this way: "One of the factors for success is compassion."

The challenging work taking place at LSH requires such sentiment and understanding, staff belief. Some of the patients are battling severe mental illnesses and may present a danger to themselves as well as others. It takes skilled, patient, caring people to work to bring about the best possible outcome for each client.

The hospital appears to have that in spades, staffing a mix of experienced and relatively new employees alongside one another.

Busch has been with LSH for a little less than a year, but that’s been more than long enough to see that hospital staff are all-in on doing their part to help others – both at the state facility and within their community.

"That sense of compassion is driven by a will to give back," he said.

Monroe, Middleton, Pattee, and Green-Scheffer have just such a will. The group agreed that they’ve been touched by the kind hearts of their fellow staff members.

The committee has worked to help local charities and individuals. They’ve also utilized some of the goods created through the L.I.F.T. program, such as the no-sew blankets, for discharged patients and even shelter dogs and cats.

For the latter, the group also collected around 100 bags of food.

"They said, ‘Wow, we cannot believe this,’" Monroe recalled of the shelter staff’s reaction.

"’This is going to get us through our winter months.’ They were so overwhelmed."

LSH Helping Hands

Pictured left: In April 2017 Logansport State Hospital’s Helping Hands committee donated food to the Salvation Army which was used for the facility’s Easter meal.

The program evokes emotional responses in some of the Helping Hands committee members who have seen the reactions of people in need firsthand.

Pattee said that those on the receiving end of the assistance from Helping Hands are grateful, and that’s a source of inspiration for staff to continue being part of the effort. Spreading the word is another way to build morale and even recruit more staff members to the cause.

"Getting the thank-yous after we do this… it’s just so neat to be able to share that with the committee," the director of nursing said.

"When you see that tear in their eyes, it’s awesome – just awesome," commented Monroe.

Those heartwarming scenes are commonplace, though many of the people assisted by Helping Hands remain anonymous. Individuals and families may be referred by employees, or they may request help themselves due to any number of difficult circumstances.

Regardless of the issue – from an employee’s temporary disability to a flu outbreak at a homeless shelter – LSH employees have tried to help.

Newly-released patients have also benefited before they’ve even left the campus. Those clients have been gifted with used luggage in good condition, t-shirt totes created through the L.I.F.T. program, and other goods to set them off on the right foot.

That’s one way Helping Hands and L.I.F.T. work in tandem. Another is via donations to the former which, in turn, have helped purchase supplies utilized in the latter.

Similarly, just as how Helping Hands and L.I.F.T. complement and even, at times, depend on one another, staff at LSH are a close-knit group driven by a shared purpose: provide the best possible care for those within their hospital, and make an impact in their community. So far, so good.

"We could not do this without the staff members continuing to donate and being so generous for what we ask," commented Green-Scheffer. The administrative secretary described the 15-member committee as "a dynamic group" that shares plenty of new ideas for Helping Hands during monthly meetings. Composed entirely of volunteers, the Helping Hands group clearly leads with their hearts.

"We’re a big family out here, and when it comes down to it, everybody freely does it," Monroe said of the giving process. "There’s a lot of love shared out here."

Story and photos by Brent Brown, INSPD Communications