What Does the Riggs Centennial Mean to Me? - Part 1
Austen Riggs held a blog competition among staff members where we asked them to answer the question: “What does the Riggs Centennial Mean to Me?” Our first blog entry comes from Staff Nurse Amy Hardt, RN, MPH, MAA.
Riggs being around for 100 years (and counting!) makes me think of an exceptionally long human life. A life that has had many chances to experience ups and downs, twists and turns. A life that has had to face significant losses, along with real moments of joy. To live for 100 years is to have had the privilege of existing long enough for lessons to be learned in the fullness of time, without being rushed or forced. The privilege of discovering things naturally, as a result of thoughtful inquiry, curiosity and risk-taking in a supportive environment. This is how we help our patients build, or rebuild, their lives, one day at a time.
To me, there is a parallel between Riggs’ longevity and maturity as an organization, and the kind of treatment that we offer our patients. Our open setting and community-centered approach offer a natural laboratory for experimentation and learning, just as in everyday life. Our emphasis on patient decision-making honors their autonomy as individuals, and emphasizes their connections with the real world outside of Riggs. Our focus on therapeutic relationships both mirrors and sheds light on our patients’ relationships with the people they care about. All of these elements work together to help our patients live out their full potential for full, meaningful lives.
Whenever a new patient (or for that matter, a new employee) joins our Riggs family, I feel hopeful about this next phase of their personal journey. For me, being part of Riggs has been a daily learning experience, and frankly, much of that learning has been about myself. My personal journey often parallels or crisscrosses the journeys of the patients I care for, and this phenomenon reminds me every day that there is more that connects us than divides us. We are all called to keep growing, learning, and healing from the pain of being human. We are all nudged to face our vulnerabilities, and have the opportunity to turn them into strengths. Being at an organization that has come into its fullness over time, and yet continues to grow each day, offers all of us a powerful model to emulate.
As I consider the collective impact of all the staff and patients who have passed through our doors over the past 100 years, I am moved by the contributions each one has made to our organization – big and small. But I feel even more moved when I think about the Riggs values and experiences that all these people have brought with them back out into the world. Things like the importance of speaking one’s truth, and having had enough time to develop the confidence to actually do it and then see an impact. Our innate need for human connection and the practical experience of having worked to develop meaningful relationships, and repair ruptured ones. The value of community, and seeing firsthand how we all impact one another, for better and for worse. I believe the world needs more of these Riggs values. This is why whenever a patient discharges, not only do I feel proud of all that they have done during their treatment here, I also feel excited about the potential for them to share what they have learned back out in the world.