The Back Family: Comfort and Care in Crisis

Jim and Amy back will never forget the morning of October 9, 2019. Three of their children were off to school and their 1-year-old was home with Amy when Jim, who was at work, received a phone call from Amy: “I’m in serious pain. My parents are coming to get me to take me to the ER and take care of Sam.”

What the couple didn’t know at the time is that Amy was facing 19 days of hospitalization and nearly losing her life. Amy was two weeks post-surgery when an intestinal tear began filling her body with toxic fluid. Upon arriving at the ER and immediately being admitted to the hospital, Amy’s journey was just beginning. She underwent another surgery yet was growing sicker and sicker. Doctors were at a loss and days grew into weeks.

Jim recalls Amy’s time in the hospital as the scariest time they had faced as a family. “No one wants to have to talk to your spouse about the clothes they would wear at their funeral.” Fortunately, Amy’s body began to heal. She was ready to be released. After a grueling, exhausting, and emotional 19-day hospital stay, Amy was going home.

Despite Amy being hospitalized and Jim’s attention focused on Amy, life had to continue for their four children. School, practices, and lessons were in full swing. Family members and friends were ready and willing to help as needed. However, there was another very important person who was helping the children: a Youth First Social Worker.

Mary Ruth Branstetter, LCSW, LCAC, RPT, serves as the Youth First Social Worker at St. Joseph Catholic School in Vanderburgh County, the school Jim and Amy’s children attend. “She provided comfort and care. They were in school, and Mary Ruth was a constant. That is what our kids needed,” says Jim. The couple was able to rely on their school’s Youth First Social Worker to routinely meet with their children during the family’s crisis, and afterwards as well.

Thanks to having Youth First services in their school, Jim and Amy’s children always have the comfort and care of Mary Ruth’s office. “That support can never go away. Our family is grateful to Youth First. And we want to ensure that every child can rely on a Youth First mental health professional when needed…crisis or not,” explain Jim and Amy.

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