Linda's Story - United Way of Greater St. Louis

Linda Hatch, 42, has mild developmental disabilities and bipolar disorder. She was placed at a local nursing home due to several suicide attempts. A heavy drinker and drug abuser, she was unstable throughout her stay at the nursing home, fighting with other residents and constantly requiring hospital stays.

image001In December 2002, she came to Human Support Services, a United Way-funded agency since 1985. Her adjustment there was also difficult. She had many breakdowns, a suicide attempt and wanted approval from everyone.

“She complained that she wanted to go home with her mother where she would not have to cook or clean,” said Bobbi Walters, residence site manager. “So we met with her and her mother to establish a behavior plan.”

The staff worked hard to convince her that she was a good person and that no one was going to hurt her. They also worked with her on daily living skills and assured her that she had many abilities and could become independent with the needed skills. Nurses at Human Support Services met with her daily due to her medical issues. She was on a number of medications because her psychiatric issues had manifested as physical complaints.

Linda was eventually able to attend the Human Support Services workshop. This workshop provides clients with job training as well as other social skills needed to help them succeed in the community. At first she cried a lot and complained about the jobs. She soon learned vocational skills, as well as social and relationship skills with the support of workshop staff.

In 2005, she transitioned to the supported employment program and began working at a local nursing home helping patients set up their trays for meals and filling their drinks. Thanks to this job and her Human Support Services financial case manager; she was able to pay off the thousands of dollars in medical bills which were not covered by Medicaid.

Able to start saving some income, Linda moved into a supervised apartment with a roommate. In November 2007, she was able to move into her own apartment with no supervision. She has been learning to get around using the public transportation system and hopes to be able to drive soon. Although she now lives on her own, Linda still has a case manager to ensure that she has the necessary access to meet her medical, social and financial needs.

“Linda is happy to tell anyone that will listen how hard she has worked and how far she has come,” says Bobbi. She tells Human Support Services staff that while she has come a long way, nothing will stop her from reaching her dream of complete independence.

United Way funds several Human Support Services programs in addition to Outpatient Mental Health Services of which Linda was a part.

Human Support Services would not be able to adequately work with patients like Linda without United Way funding.

“She wouldn’t receive the services she has,” said Deb West, Director of Residential and Day Services. It is with this funding that they are able to work with Linda to help her strive toward her dreams of success and independence.

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