Trahan and Garry promote mental health services for emergency workers

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WESTMINSTER — On-Site Academy, a facility providing essential mental health services to rescuers after traumatic experiences, has received $200,000 in funding from the state’s American Rescue Plan Act to support its services.

Congresswoman Lori Trahan, D-3rd, and State Representative Colleen Garry, D-Dracut, visited the facility last week, where they met the family of Alan Matthews, a Dracut resident and nurse anesthetist died by suicide last year.

“I am so grateful for the courage of Alan’s family to share his story to help prevent other families from experiencing the tragic loss of a loved one who was a healthcare hero,” said Gary. “I appreciate the support of my colleagues in the Legislative Assembly and the Governor in supporting this ARPA Bill funding.

“Special thanks to Congresswoman Trahan for her care, concern and kindness to the Matthews family,” Garry continued. “His understanding of the tremendous need for this program for our healthcare heroes is so invaluable to the continuation of this remarkable, literally life-saving program under the leadership of Dr. (Hayden) Duggan and staff on site.

On-Site Academy, founded in 1991, is dedicated solely to critical incident stress management for emergency personnel and veterans. The facility is one of the first of its kind and seeks to address the impact that emergency work has on health workers, first responders and other staff.

According to the organization, emergency workers face higher rates of heart disease, substance abuse, divorce, depression and suicide due to the stressful nature of their work, which has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19.

“Particularly during this stressful time, it is crucial to help our first responders, nurses and law enforcement to stay as healthy as possible, both physically and emotionally, given the trauma they are exposed to daily. “said Duggan, president of On-Site. and founder. “Nurses have been on the front line, shift after shift, day after day, often acting in the place of family members who, in some cases, were not even able to say goodbye to loved ones, making the most intensive medical interventions and being there during recovery or holding their patients’ hands until the end.

“It took a huge emotional toll,” he continued. “Anything we can do to help them on their own recovery journey should be done as quickly as possible.”

Trahan and Garry were joined by Caroljean “CJ” Matthews, Alan Matthews’ widow, and their daughters, Kerry and Emily.

Alan Matthews worked for 30 years as a nurse anesthetist and spent most of his time on intensive care unit floors performing intubations on critical COVID-19 positive patients during the pandemic. Before the pandemic began, he had suffered from migraines after a car accident in 2014, and the stress of his job made the pain significantly worse.

In July 2021, Matthews went on sick leave to seek help, but two weeks later took his own life. Since then, her family has advocated for mental health services for emergency workers.

“I can’t imagine the pain of families like the Matthews who have lost a loved one to suicide because our mental health response isn’t what it should be. No emergency worker should be left to bear the brunt of the stress and trauma of their job alone,” Trahan said. “We owe it to CJ, Kerry and Emily, and all the other emergency worker families, to make substantial investments at all levels in organizations like On-Site Academy.”

Matthews’ family expressed gratitude for the funding provided to On-Site, which will be used to expand services including peer-to-peer counselling, a residential program, the Widows/Widowers in Need of Grief Services program and treatment plans. non-residential for families.

“When people ask for help, it shouldn’t be so hard or impossible to find,” said CJ Matthews. “I am so grateful to Colleen Garry, Lori Trahan and Dr. Duggan and her staff for their dedication, care and commitment to helping first responders. Creating a medical site to help others in the medical profession would continue Alan’s lifelong work of helping people and could save someone’s life, preventing their family from going through what we are going through .

Kerry Matthews agreed with her mother, talking about the pain they had felt.

“No child should have to experience the loss of a parent due to work-related stress,” she said. “With a program specifically for medical professionals, who are true heroes, I hope we can help others in memory of my father.”

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