Dear Mr. McCartney,
Our child has been at The Barry Robinson Center for two months. I want to first thank Ms. Laura Cheney for taking the chance and admitting my daughter one day after I called her. I was frantic to find a place, and Laura put my mind to rest. BRC has always been my first choice for her. Ms. Laura finished all the red tape paperwork (there is a lot) in one day and was able to admit her very quickly. We came at 1:00 pm on a Friday and I know people were staying late to help us. Mr. Chuck gave me a tour, Ms. Charlotte met my husband, and our daughter saw Ms. JoAnn, Dr. Horsy, and Dr. Mateen that afternoon. She also met Ms. Susan from the dietary team that day. I am going to address some people by first names only in this letter because I do not know all the last names or correct spellings. I would like to recognize the special attention that they have given to our daughter and our family.
First, I would like to mention that we believe the therapist Dr. Horsey is an excellent match for our daughter. We see surprising progress as far as her communication skills and ability to express her emotions, things she’s struggled with for years. Dr. Horsey has worked well with our therapist at West Point to set up family sessions. Next, Mr. Rodney Boykin made us feel at ease immediately when we called during the first week, and his comments and assessments of our daughter were spot-on. He understood her and how to work with her. Mr. Rodney also took extra time to meet us and show us our daughter’s room on our second visit to BRC. In the dormitory, Ms. Catherine has spent many hours with our daughter trying to soothe her when she is anxious and trying to help her with her delusional thinking; Mr. Greg has also been very helpful. We know our daughter also talks to Ms. Maricia, and all of the other staff in the Lawless dormitory have been so kind and helpful. We do not know all their names. We want you to know how much we appreciate all they have done and are doing. Ms. Miranda and Ms. Brittany, her nurses, have kept us updated on all medical issues and evidence of self-harm. Our daughter really likes them.
Second, education is extremely important to our daughter. It is very much a part of her identity. She is an Advanced Placement student and college-bound this fall, we hope, to University of Washington. I met your education department on the first day there, and they took careful notes about our daughter and were ready to make a plan immediately. It took a little while to sort out what work our daughter still needed to complete for her “home” school (counselor miscommunication from her counselor in NY, snow days in NY, and technical difficulties with Google classroom). Ms. Amanda Lloyd was extremely persistent in accomplishing this, as well as setting our daughter up with an on-line English course. Ms. Amanda has sent numerous emails to me and the “home” school and she has also met with us privately twice—once to set up the schedule and once to check on our daughter’s progress. Ms. Cindy and Ms. Julie, and Mr. Damien also met with us. We know this is not standard practice and greatly appreciate all of the teachers’ time. Additionally, Ms. Cindy Mills and Ms. Julie King did some “teacher magic,” so that our daughter could take her AP Exams at Norfolk Schools. They made this decision and did this work because they felt it would reduce her anxiety to be able to take these tests. We know that they really care about her.
Third, Ms. Paula also goes way above and beyond to help meet the dietary needs of all the patients, particularly our child, who requests a vegan diet and needs to put on some weight. She lost about 20 pounds from February 1-April 1. This was happening before she came to BRC, so her diet is a big concern for us. Ms. Paula spent her own time shopping to find the best supplemental chocolate shakes that she could, and our daughter loves them. She ordered the NuGO bars the minute that she knew our daughter liked them. I mentioned Naked drinks, and I think she received one the very next day. That is just amazing! Ms. Paula also met with us privately, along with Ms. JoAnn and Ms. Brittany, from nursing, to discuss our daughter’s weight loss and her food likes and dislikes. Her weight loss is a huge concern because another part of her identity has been being an athlete. We are so happy she is in Girls on the Run. She loves it too. I spoke to Ms. Amanda Phelps on the phone for 30 minutes one day about our daughter’s level of physical activity and her policy that she eats enough in order to run. She has been very accommodating for our daughter in the program, even though she sometimes makes bad choices.
It was wonderful to meet you at the breakfast on Saturday morning. We also enjoyed sharing with the other parents who are in the same circumstance as us—being military families with multiple moves, schools, and deployments. It was great that Justin came in to talk to us about the different methods of communication that he is developing. Although we already feel that communication with our child has been very good, there is always room for improvement. We have not used the Skype option to communicate, but that is because no one in our family has asked to do it. The parent handbook is definitely a must, as we have always received one at every other facility. The idea of making it a working document on-line is a good idea; however, I do like to have a small pamphlet or booklet with basic information handy. As I mentioned in the meeting, any suggestions that I gave were purely to move BRC from a four star to a five star facility, if there is such a thing. I think the other parents concur.
Hosting a Military Appreciation Day was a great idea, and the kids loved it! The caricature station was very popular; I was thrilled that my family was able to do that. We would not have been able to do that a few months ago. The younger kids liked the blow-up and all the other displays. Although we missed it, we heard that the Police K9 Unit was really interesting. Finally, we have to comment on the quality of the food. Everything was just delicious, much better than your standard “big picnic.” Ms. Susan and her whole staff does an awesome job. She is one of the friendliest and most hard-working people we see there. Our daughter says the vegan food is very good and she recognizes their special attention.
The first person we see on Saturdays when we come to visit is Ms. Bonnie. She is so pleasant, caring, and conscientious, and always remembers us. It is a nice way to start a visit. If you have questions about anything in this letter, please contact me.