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MA Shalesa Allen was eating lunch at work when a teammate came to get her. A patient was on the line and had asked for her by name, and he sounded troubled.
When Shalesa, who works at the HCAT clinic at Southlake near Dallas, picked up the call, the patient told her he didn’t want to live anymore. She recognized him immediately — she had talked to him before about some of his troubling emotions.
He told her he was working with a psychiatric coordinator, but was afraid he would be sent to a mental health facility. “He wanted someone to talk to, and he said he wanted help, but he wouldn’t tell me where he was. He was afraid we would call the police,” Shalesa said. “I talked to him for at least 30 minutes. I was trying to offer him some comfort and persuade him to relax.”
The patient refused to say where he was, so Shalesa persuaded him to come into the clinic. He agreed. He arrived within 10 minutes and talked to the physician in charge, who decided for the patient’s safety, they needed to call 911.
“The patient wasn’t happy, of course, but he walked out quite calmly,” Shalesa said. “He was crying out for help, and he just wanted someone to listen without judging him. I’m glad I was there to do that.”
The patient was admitted to a psychiatric unit in Fort Worth for a 72-hour watch and then got the long-term help he needed.
When asked what she enjoys most about her job, Shalesa says it’s knowing she can make a difference in people’s lives. According to her teammates, Shalesa brings the kind of compassion and commitment to her job that make a difference not only for patients, but also for all who work with her.
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