Able to Help

Issues can be resolved with a single phone call to NDU

By Kelly Hagen, NDU Director of Communications

Within the state’s public health and human services system, the State Hospital in Jamestown stands out as a landmark treatment center for our most vulnerable citizens. Its history dates back to 1885, making it one of only two public institutions to predate statehood, along with University of North Dakota.

The sign that points the way to the North Dakota State Hospital in Jamestown.

Currently, the State Hospital provides adult psychiatric services, transitional living and chemical dependency services to people who need the help. Service from the State Hospital differs from that offered at the eight regional Human Service Centers. Again, from the NDDHS website: “The eight regional Human Service Centers in North Dakota provide community-based treatment for individuals with a mental illness or chemical dependency. These services may be provided on an outpatient residential basis. While many treatment modalities may be similar (medication therapy, counseling, skills training, etc.), services are provided in the community setting. The State Hospital provides treatment in a more structured environment to meet the needs of those who need more intensity than community-based services can provide.”

What this means is that the State Hospital is able to provide a level of service to its patients unlike anywhere else in the state of North Dakota. This facility is able to change lives, and drastically improve the quality of life for those who are suffering the most.

Long-time NDSH employees Neil and Connie have worked at the State Hospital, in separate departments, for a combined total of 46 years.

For most of that time, they have both been members of North Dakota United and their predecessor union, North Dakota Public Employees Association.

“I used to work, actually, at the switchboard when I started in ’88,” Connie said. “I worked there for about a year, and then I got hired on in medical records.” She describes her daily work as “filing, filing and filing.” All of the records she works with are on paper. “What we do is we put the charts together, 60 days after a patient is discharged. And then, after that, it gets scanned into the computer. Otherwise we wouldn’t have room for anything.”

Jamestown, North Dakota

Both of them enjoy their jobs, and feel gratified that they are able to make a difference in the lives of people by what they do professionally. They live 30 miles away from the State Hospital. “We live on a farm,” Neil said. “Out in the middle of nowhere,” Connie added. And Connie always gets to work on time, no matter what the weather conditions are. “Believe me,” Neil said, “I’ve plowed snow in the wee hours of the morning so she could get out.”

Recently a concern rose about work flow in Connie’s department, and her supervisor put a written request into her personnel file that the Sukos don’t feel comfortable with sharing publicly.

They called NDU representative Gisele Thorson, who listened to their story. Not keeping up with work flow is probably a problem for a lot of state agencies in the current climate. Public workers across the state are all dealing with expanding workloads. Budget cuts have meant that open positions are often left unfilled, so less and less hands are assisting an expanding population in the state. Thorson called a human resource officer at the Department of Human Services to discuss the issue. The situation was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

They say they feel relieved by the outcome, and are thankful to the State Hospital for taking another look at the situation.

They also very much appreciate the assistance they received from NDU. “It is good to have someone to call if needed,” Neil said.

Contact the NDU Help Center at (701)223–0450 or helpcenter@ndunited.org if you ever have any questions or concerns about your rights and responsibilities at work. Our expert staff stands ready to help you resolve any outstanding issues.

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