Monday, November 1, 2010

5 Questions for Domenica Personti, Program Manager

5 Questions is our staff spotlight feature where we introduce you to the people who make BCCS run.

Name: Domenica Personti 
Job: Program Manager, Lancaster Center
Time with BCCS: 4 years

1. Tell us what you do at Brandywine.
I was recently promoted to Program Manager at the Lancaster site. I do a lot of trainings for the staff, supervise the Perinatal program, the NSAFE program, the Core department, as well as all the support services, Anger Management, Partial, and IOP.
This position still allows me to do front line work. I still have the opportunity to meet and talk with clients on a daily basis. I want to make sure that I am available to them. Recently, I set up a “sound-off” for clients, twice a day every Tuesday for the whole month of October. Anyone who wants to can come and sit with me, and just have a conversation about things that they like, and things that they want to change, and things that they think we are doing well. Hearing what the clients have to say is really important to me.
My biggest challenge is probably slowing myself down. I would like to just do everything, like, tomorrow! And I’m constantly working on me, to slow down and look at things realistically. It’s challenging for me to not be spontaneous, especially when you see this great vision that we have. I see Brandywine with this great vision, so it’s exciting, and sometimes it’s hard to slow yourself down and work through it.
2. Anger Management and Partial Hospitalization are some of the new programs you’ve introduced at Brandywine. Tell us about these programs and why they were introduced.
We offer Anger Management in a one day, eight hour course on Fridays and/or Saturdays. It made sense to do it here, to make it an affordable and allow the clients to “one stop shop,” like we do everything else at Brandywine. It provides easier access. They’re right here. They can take it here. It’s also open to the public. Anyone can come and take it, but originally, it made sense for our clients.
Partial Hospitalization is for our clients who are having a little bit of difficulty at our other levels of care. So when we see that they’re struggling and need a little bit more intensive treatment, we can refer them to our Partial program. That runs 7 AM to 1:30, Monday through Friday. It includes education and group therapy sessions. They get a half an hour to 45 minute lunch. So it’s kind of like school, so to speak.
3. You’ve also been very involved in addressing the educational needs of Brandywine staff. How important is ongoing training to the services our staff provides?
This is so important. Our field shifts and changes so often, that we have to be up to speed as to what new treatment modalities are out there, and what new tools we can use to treat our clients. I feel like it’s such an important tool that the staff need, as well, if we can constantly keep them fresh, even if it’s retraining in certain areas.
I want the staff to be cross trained, so that everyone can work in any aspect of treatment here at Brandywine. My vision is for all staff to be able to work in multiple areas, fill in when needed and be true team players. For example, anyone can do intake, and everyone understands and knows what NSAFE does. So if an NSAFE client doesn’t have access to a case manager right away, one of the Core counselors should be able to meet with that client, and at least occupy them and help them a little bit until their primary is available. This will improve the quality of our care, and we will treat the clients better. I think that’s all part of training.
Education is so, so, so important now. When I came into the field, you just had to have an Associates degree. That was in ’99. Now, there’s such a focus on education, as well there should be. The day I stop learning, I’m really not any good to anyone else, and I believe that. That’s why I’m still in school. I just try and push education, absolutely. You can’t really do a whole lot without that anymore.
4. Tell us your favorite client success story.
I had a client that I worked with as support for the counselor, when I was a supervisor. When I met him, [he] had just went through a pretty bad relapse, had been using for about 10 months. I met with him pretty often for a good 3 or 4 months, got him linked up with a lot of support services that he needed. He ended up going to school for ten weeks, got a skill certification, and then got a union job, and he’s now a 13 day client [with 3 years clean and twice a month pickups.] So that’s a pretty awesome success story. And I still see him pretty often and I still look and see how he’s doing, so that’s a good feeling.
5. If you had $30,000 to donate to BCCS, what would you do with it?
I would do criminal re-entry, absolutely, without a doubt. I went into this field when I was 19 years old, gaining my first experiences working at Gander Hill Prison and with AmeriCorps. We went into the prison and did a project based around vocational rehab, and how it benefits people who are at risk for substance abuse and incarceration, due to any kind of history of crime. While I was there, I was exposed to so many intelligent people who had just fallen into the wrong crowd, or used drugs at a young age, and I was amazed at the level of intelligence a lot of them had, and their current situation kind of held them back.
I would take $30,000 and I would do a criminal re-entry program, and I would help the offenders coming out of prison before they even got out. Case management services for the couple weeks before they get out, and then assist them with housing, employment, and record expungement. That’s a really big deal. I think that’s one of the biggest hindrances that our clients who have criminal history have, in getting employment. So that would be, without a doubt, what I would do with it.

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