In Their Own Words

Personal experiences of our patients

Duffy team members’ days are full of interactions with our patients – some positive, some challenging. Often, staff does not realize how much of an impact their small acts of compassion and kindness have on the patients and clients we serve. 

Luckily, Case Manager Cathy Finn collects stories from around Duffy and shares them with staff. Here are a few recent highlights from patients, in their own words: 

“You guys never abandoned me.”

A patient of ours has recently gone to a nursing home for a stay of rehab from long term health issues. He’s engaged with Duffy for primary care, medication assisted treatment for substance use, and case management. He’s been a tough guy to work with at times – he has a way of hiding what is going on with him and things spiral down. When his case manager visited him at the nursing home recently, he spoke at length about how he felt about Duffy. “You guys never abandoned me,” he said. “For a while I didn’t want to talk to anyone; did you know that? But you all just kept coming back to me, coming back and coming back. Even my family has given up on me. I was so sick the last time I was there… and you all did a great job taking care of me.” He was so grateful that Duffy never, ever gave up on him. Now his big goal is to get back to his job, healthy and stable. He knows Duffy staff will be there to support him each step of the way.

“It takes a village”.

He is a young man and a fairly new patient with us. Despite his age, he has already lived a life of trauma and is severely mentally ill. He spent the summer on the streets of Hyannis where, as one of our Case Managers noted, “He didn’t blend in.” He was, excuse the term, ‘odd’, and even approached and interacted with tourists as a part of his psychotic world. In a lot of towns, he would have been hustled along, brought to court, been treated disrespectfully. Not here in Hyannis. The community saw his needs and rallied around him instead of pushing him out. Duffy paid for a stay in a motel for a while so he could stabilize his life. When we could no longer pay, VinFen, M25, the Town of Barnstable and the Council of Churches stepped in, because, when housed, he was doing much better. Stable housing is the underpinning of health.

Now a couple of months later, he has received a voucher from Housing Assistance and has a small place to call his own. He is very involved in his care here at Duffy, seeing our psychiatric nurse practitioner and participating in the Bridge Group. He is engaged in his primary care appointments. He’s now coming to more appointments than he’s missing and has stability that he didn’t before – now that a village has rallied together to, perhaps literally, save him.

“I Can Live”

A Duffy Case Manager was visiting a patient in the hospital. The patient had another visitor, a former patient who had moved to the Upper Cape and is now seeing other health care providers. After he apologized for no longer going to Duffy for his medical care, he said, “You know, Dr. Lisa taught me that I can live. I didn’t think I could, but she taught me I could.” He went on to praise staff from many years ago and how they had helped him so much. He said he would never forget what Duffy had done for him.

“The Power of Socks”

One of our patients who is staying at the shelter comes in for weekly therapy. He has had a tough time, with severe mental health issues throughout his life. He landed here at Duffy, and now receives his medical, behavioral health and psychiatry care here. He had been applying for jobs and not getting any calls back, and he’s been upset about that. During his recent appointment he received 2 pairs of Bombas socks, as Duffy recently received a Bombas donation. After the patient left, he called his therapist to say he got a job interview! Duffy offered a taxi voucher to the interview, otherwise it would have been a rainy 40-minute walk. After the job interview, he called his therapist to let her know his training for the new job would start the very next day. “It’s amazing what a fresh pair of socks can do for your confidence,” he said.

The Opposite of Addiction is Connection

Duffy’s John Barboza, Certified Addictions Registered Nurse, in 2019 built planter boxes for the Youth MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment) group. He dedicates his life tirelessly to Duffy Health Center, to his work, to his patients and to his colleagues.

On his vacation, John made these boxes with love so that the Youth MAT group can learn to ground themselves with gardening. This is the first part of a larger, collaborative garden project with the Youth MAT group and the Men’s MAT group. Part of our work is to teach them grounding skills, but also to grow their own food for self-sustaining purposes. We are trying to teach them the value of community and collaboration, by incorporating the older men in the program and learning from them. Lastly, we are trying to teach them the value of restorative justice and giving back to the community in recovery.

John came in on his day off and delivered these beautiful, handmade boxes which he even took the time to carve. Our patients’ faces were priceless when John walked in with these. They lit up. These young people feel so loved by our staff. The opposite of addiction is not abstinence, it is connection. Recovery is about forming healthy and positive attachments and connections. Our patients do well here because they are able to do that, first with the staff and then with each other, and hopefully then with the community.