Ester Biggs’ Avalon Story
I was born and raised here in Cache Valley, but lived abroad in Israel when I was 8 and then in Italy when I was 18. I learned a bit of Italian and studied nutrition and art while there. Then when we moved back to the states I decided I wanted to become a nurse. My main interest at that time was pediatric medicine as well as labor and delivery and endocrinology. I worked many different places including radiology, pediatric home health, medical/surgical, a little hospice here and there and also received additional licenses and training in IV certification and phlebotomy. There was always a little part of me that was drawn to psych nursing, even though I never really pictured myself sticking with it long-term. We have a family history of depression, anxiety, OCD and even eating disorders. I have had multiple people close to me in my life who have suffered from eating disorders and I have seen the major impacts that it has had upon them and their families. I have been able to utilize the training and knowledge that I have gained while working at Avalon to help many of them and it has been a HUGE asset to one person in particular as she has put forth major efforts to recover and move forward with her life. I have worked at Avalon for six years and am so grateful for the experiences it has given me. I have come to love psych nursing and feel that it will be an asset to me throughout my life, both professionally and personally.
One of the reasons I believe in Avalon is because of the people who work here. We have some seriously amazing and inspiring individuals here, who prove to me time and time again that they would do anything for our clients. The one at the top of my list is Chad Speth. He is incredible. There are few things I love more than sitting in with him when he meets with clients. He is so available to them, in every way. He is always there to listen to them and give them uplifting advice and encouragement. He also knows when to be tough with them and push them to do better and he doesn't just give in to their every want and desire. He is thorough in their care and thoughtful in the decisions he makes regarding their treatment. He is on-call 24-7 and certainly does get calls all through the day AND night. I often wonder how he does it. I have worked for many physicians over the years, and have never found any of them as approachable and kind and Chad is. I am never afraid to call him with questions or concerns because I know he cares as much as I do about our clients and will be there to give me answers and the help that I need in that moment.
Another shout out has to go to Rachel. I think she must have one of the hardest jobs here, and yet... she rocks it. And the thing that impresses me most, is how much the clients adore her. I have heard time and time again (from our clients) that she is the best dietitian out there. She has the messy job of dealing with weight restoration and juggling meal plans- which is the stuff that causes our patients the most anxiety and distress. She is matter of fact, and to the point with our girls and yet compassionate and empathetic with them. She is also very approachable for staff and, like Chad, is getting texts and calls all hours of the day and night. I love working with Rachel and am always impressed by her ability to keep all the meal plans straight and always know what is going on and who needs what.
I also feel enough can't be said about our Direct Care staff. They have a job that is both emotionally and physically draining. They are the ones putting up with our clients through the good times, and the bad. They are the ones keeping them safe and helping them with symptom interruption. They have to monitor bathrooms, food, comments, behaviors- things most of us take for granted... and then remember to document it all at the end of the day. We could not do what we do without Direct Care. They are rock stars and I am grateful to work with so many passionate people, who are firm in their convictions and willing to step out of their comfort zone shift after shift to make sure our clients are able to remain safe and learn to overcome their eating disordered thoughts and behaviors.
I think that one of the reasons our treat to outcome strategy works is because of the impact that Avalon has on these girls. They remember the people they interact with here and there is something to be said about being in a treatment center where it isn't all about just weight restoration, but actually helping these women learn ways to move forward with their lives and to stay in recovery. When the staff cares about that outcome, it shows. And Avalon Hills certainly stands tall as a place where the staff care- where they want these girls to recover. And as hard as it is at times to put up with their shenanigans, it is all worth it in the end when we see them move on with their life and find joy and happiness in places they never knew possible. That is why we do this! That is why Avalon is so great!
- Ester Biggs, RN-BSN