Grande Ronde Hospital | FY2018 | Community Benefit Report

Alicia Downing and her children, Hannah, 11, and Jeremiah, 1. Alicia is the first graduate of the CHARM program. FY2018 Community Benefit Report It’s quiet around Alicia’s kitchen table until exuberant chaos bursts through the front door in the form of a handful of kids fresh off the school bus. Alicia’s daughter, Hannah, reaches through the group to give her mom a hug. The children surround Alicia, 30, talking over each other, tapping her shoulder—anything to keep her attention while recapping the day and begging for snacks. “There aren’t enough of those for everybody … unless you cut ’em in half,” Alicia directs, as they reach for blueberry muffins in a pan on the stove. Satisfied with hugs and treats to share, they move off en masse and it’s quiet again. The interruption relaxes Alicia enough to tell her story. It’s a hard one, but it has a happy ending. Road to recovery Alicia is the first graduate of Union County’s Children and Recovering Mothers (CHARM) program. Her amazing success is what’s possible for those coming out of addiction when given support, honesty and accountability. For those, like Alicia, strong enough to seek help. Alicia did not have many positive role models growing up, and attention- deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) made school a challenge. At 13, she got high for the first time and even- tually dropped out of middle school. A few years later, she got clean and sober and stayed that way until her mid-20s. An unhealthy relationship and marr- iage with a drug user, however, led Alicia to methamphetamine addiction. Reality hit Alicia hard a little over two years ago when she lost custody of Hannah and her oldest son, Kysin, who was awarded to his biological father and taken out of state. Alicia has had no contact with him since—a situation she is determined to eventually change. Hannah’s father was not a suitable guardian, so the 8-year-old was placed into foster care with a family in Umatilla County. Alicia discovered she was preg- nant—the one thing that would keep her from using. Addicts do not deal well with pressure, however, and Alicia was afraid she would relapse once the baby came and permanently lose all three of her children. When her care team at the GRH Women’s Clinic talked to her about committing to the CHARM program, she listened. And in October 2017, at 33 weeks pregnant, she signed up. Determined to keep her relation- ship with Hannah intact, Alicia spent that winter riding a bus at least once a week over to Pendleton, to then wait for another bus to Hermiston. After spending two hours with her daughter, Alicia would get back on the bus and come home alone. Six hours of round- trip travel just so that she could see Hannah and show her how much she was loved. During the months that followed, Alicia did everything right. She left a toxic relationship with Hannah and Jeremiah’s father to move in with her no-nonsense, but rock-solid and supportive aunt, Sandy. After Jeremiah was born, Alicia remained committed Alicia’s story Finding hope and healing in the CHARM program —Continued on page 3