“A line has been drawn in our lives and there is no going back to the time before the line – we can only move forward or stay stuck.” Dr. Joel FayEach of us is charged with making meaning out of the events that happen to us. Our experiences greatly influence our subsequent actions for a lifetime. On October 25, 2010, the unthinkable happened. On of our own was assaulted during the course of her work and succumbed to her injuries. During the debriefing which occurred in the days following, Dr. Joel Fay reminded us all – “A line has been drawn in our lives and there is no going back to the time before the line – we can only move forward or stay stuck.”
I have watched as we try in each of our own ways to make sense of this senseless act. Deputies and health staff have established an even deeper respect and team spirit. The deputies are now defined as part of the treatment team. We have examined our joint practices to begin re engineering how the work flow moves through the detention facility. Deputies and health staff sat together in Critical Incident debriefings. There is a difference in the way we treat one another.
Although in very early stages, we are in conversation about how to design a safer workspace for all staff. The Sheriff’s Office and Contra Costa Health Services have forged a stronger and more united bond not only to ensure there is safety and respect, but to reestablish where the two departments have common goals. We have begun discussions with the labor representatives and Risk Management to provide feedback in our process as we move along. In the next year, we will be developing a Center for Workforce Safety and Vitality. Still in the design and feedback stage, this is an essential step to new and redesigned patient care while ensuring that our system is a safe and rewarding place to work.
“I now know Cynthia through your stories.”Jim ConwayJim Conway joined us for some of those conversations. He came to assist us in problem-solving and to provide his expertise on ways we could continue to provide safe and excellent service without compromising quality of care. As the detention staff and others met with him over the course of two days, he was struck by the deep respect they had for each other and their work. Evident was a committment to move forward in a meaningful way creating an enduring legacy to honor Cynthia and all who are committed to our mission. Before he left he thanked the detention nurses commenting “I now know Cynthia through your stories.”
There was outpouring of concern by the inmates. That such a grievous act could be performed by a fellow inmate was unacceptable. They, too, mourned her loss. They rallied together to contribute to the fund set up in her memory and created a work of art that will hold a prominent place at Martinez Detention Facility.
It was moments such as these, and many others, that spirit and strength of our great system shined through.
During this time of the year, my heart extends to Cynthia’s family who are without her. I can not imagine their loss. They are in the hearts and minds of many people. We will not forget Cynthia, nor will we forget you. Like her, you have chosen to offer your skill and spirit in service to our community and I am honored and privileged to stand with you as we welcome a New Year and new opportunity.