As one of the advocates based at Riverview Psychiatric Center (RPC), I can say that every day here is different. That has been especially true this summer as long-time DRM advocate and notable Riverview presence Kristina LaChance stepped down from her role after 13 years with the agency in June. I had the pleasure of working alongside her for her last two years and I think it is well worth taking a moment to reflect on the difference she has made in the lives of our clients and the mental health system that affects them.
Kristina first came to DRM not as an employee, but as a job coach for an individual with a developmental disability who worked for the agency. Recognizing Kristina’s skills, Director Kim Moody offered her a job as a community-based advocate. After 8 years as a community-based advocate, Kristina transitioned into the role of patient advocate at RPC. Working with the community mental health system prepared her for patient advocacy by giving her a thorough understanding of our community mental health system, the problems associated with it, barriers to discharge and how to break them down. And break them down she did.
Kristina was a fixture at the community discharge planning meeting, where members of the hospital administration go over a list of current patients and discuss one by one the feasibility of the patient being discharged to a less restrictive environment and any obstacles to that goal. This is where Kristina particularly shined. Here she advocated for patients’ needs to be met, asked tough questions about those patients that had been ready for discharge but nevertheless stuck in the facility and helped coordinate hospital and state resources all in the name of our clients’ freedom.
Kristina also had a way of talking with our clients that was reassuring, informative and always grounded in the fact that our clients are people first and not a function of their psychiatric label. She had a knack for drawing attention to the issues that affected our clients and never shied away from saying what needed to be said about the treatment of those in the hospital -no matter who didn’t want to hear it.
But this isn't just a post about a great ally of our clients moving on. It's also about the wonderful advocate stepping up to the plate, Jane Moore. Jane comes to this role with a world of experience that will benefit our clients. Among her many endeavors, she previously practiced law in Florida and Illinois, where she worked for Equip for Equality, the IL Protection and Advocacy agency; served as a member of DRM’s PAIMI Advisory Council; and worked as a peer support specialist at Riverview through Amistad. This well-rounded experience lends itself well to the role of the advocate at RPC, where every day is different and there are many angles to assist our clients and protect their rights. As we wish Kristina well on the next chapter of her career, we also want to extend a warm welcome to DRM’s newest patient advocate, Jane Moore.