By Lindsey Grossman
Every Monday afternoon, Elise Senecal, RN, CCCTM, visits with the residents, who are called guests, at Bangor Area Homeless Shelter. Senecal is one of five outpatient care managers on St. Joseph’s Care Management team. She uses her background in psychology and substance use disorder to build relationships with Bangor’s at-risk citizens. “St. Joe’s has a mission to work with the most vulnerable populations in our community,” Senecal said. “For me, it’s incredibly rewarding to meet people where they are.”
Senecal monitors shelter guests for various medical issues such as blood pressure, asthma, and diabetes; educates them on topics like heart health; and performs simple wound care. She cites chronic medical conditions as a big focus of this population, in addition to substance use disorder and psychiatric problems.
But it’s not all illness and heartache. She recalled one particular guest at the shelter who was battling alcoholism. Senecal saw him regularly, and also connected him with a physician. She shared, “Finally, he was successful in his sobriety, and he got an apartment and a job. When he got his first paycheck, he brought it in for me to see. He was so proud.”
Senecal says she’ll keep doing this work as long as they’ll have her. “I’m often amazed and encouraged by people’s resiliency, and I’m thankful when I get to see the best of humanity in this world,” she said. “It is amazing to see the care guests will extend to other people when they have absolutely nothing. It’s humbling to watch — and it’s both uplifting and heartwarming to be a part of that. It’s food for the soul.”
“I’m often amazed and encouraged by people’s resiliency, and I’m thankful when I get to see the best of humanity in this world.”