In 1996, Brett F. was an art major at University of California, San Diego. Then the voices started. Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, he struggled for years to come to terms with his illness.
“I didn’t accept that I was ill for several years,” Brett says.
Brett first came to Scripps Mercy Hospital during a period of crisis and progressed from inpatient to outpatient care. Today, however, he isn’t at Mercy as a patient. Instead, Brett is hard at work providing clerical support within the hospital to speed up the hospital’s billing and reimbursement.
A-Visions, an innovative and nationally recognized work program, was launched in 2002 by Jerry Gold, PhD. Along with therapy, A-Visions empowers people like Brett to secure volunteer or paid employment within Scripps.
A vision for success
Kevin Wilson, the program lead, has been with A-Visions since its inception and is the participants’ go-to resource for guidance, coaching and successes through the years.
“This program is client-focused and structured,” Kevin explains. “It requires a consistent level of commitment and discipline from candidates.” After initial preparation and coaching that can last several months, program participants begin working in volunteer roles.
Rose “Posey” Hagarman, who has lived with major depression most of her life, nevertheless became a master’s-prepared surgical ICU nurse.
“I was devastated when I couldn’t continue that job after a stroke,” Posey says. “Through the years I tried a lot of different things that didn’t work. And then, there was this beautiful program called A-Visions. Some people are just dropped onto the street after their initial treatment. But here, they lift you up.”
How the program works
Paid A-Visions candidates typically limit their work to eight hours per week, which allows them to maintain their disability benefits, medications and medical care that enable them to work.
“Some candidates have lengthy commutes to work,” Kevin reveals. “That’s how much they value what they do.”
“A-Visions has been a joy for me,” says Janice Shivers, whose major depression has waxed and waned throughout her life. “I work part-time in health information, and I love what I do. I just opened a new bank account with my paycheck, and the teller said, ‘Oh, I love Scripps.’ It makes me feel so good to know that I’m a part of this organization. I’ve had my job for four years — the longest I’ve ever worked any one place.”