For more than two years Joyce Atkinson has worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse helping developmentally disabled patients in Socorro. Tresco Inc. is a non-profit group with five locations in New Mexico alone and spans the continental U.S. to help all ages regardless of each patients particular ailment. Atkinson took time away from her busy schedule to tell El Defensor Chieftain more.
Question: What exactly does this organization do here in Socorro?
Answer: We work with and take care of developmentally disabled individuals and try to get them out in the community. The goal is to integrate them into a normal life as best we can.
Q: What brought you to this facility?
A: I was a nurse at Good Sam’s (Good Samaritan Society) and heard there was a position open here. If I had known there was a spot here I would have probably come sooner because there’s a lot that needs to done for these patients.
Q: Are you born and raised in Socorro?
A: No. I moved here in May of 1997 from Michigan. My sister moved here and said she could use some company. I’m adventurous so I headed south. I like the weather and the small town atmosphere that we have here.
Q: How many patients does the facility have and what is provided for them?
A: Around 14. This is what is called a daytime facility but we also have on call overnight staff if necessary for emergencies. We get them out into the community and do things like picnics, visit museums, or see a show. Sometimes we just ask them what they want to do. Weather it’s go to visit Magdalena or anyplace else around Socorro, we let them decided.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face working at a unique facility such as this?
A: I don’t find any challenges working with the patients. Paperwork challenges is another story (laughs). Working with the state can be tough as a non-profit. But working with every single person that walks through the door makes your day. Learning their individual quirks even if they can’t communicate verbally is amazing to see.
Q: Being a non-profit, how does one gain access to the support your group provides?
A: You get on what’s called a D & D waiver, meaning Developmentally Disabled, and go onto a waiting list. I’m not certain how exactly it is determined when patients qualify but I do know that it is a long waiting list.
Q: What are your main responsibilities on a day by day basis?
A: A lot of it has to do with state paperwork. But when I’m here I help take care of minor injuries and things of that nature. When they’re home and need something that is when the home care part of it comes in to do assessments and see if hospital care might be needed.
Q: What type of reward do you get personally working at this facility?
A: You get to know what these people are like because if you haven’t worked with them one on one then you just don’t know how great they are. I know that look and stare in public at people ‘like that’, for lack of a better word, which is rude and hurtful. For me it’s wonderful because I love these people because they’re amazing to be around.
Q: A few random questions. What is you favorite movie?
A: That’s a tough one. I really enjoy “Sleeping with the Enemy” with Julia Roberts. I’ve always loved her and in that particular movie she gets him in the end. “Pretty Woman” is another one because it’s a happy ending to a bad situation. Julia Roberts is tops for me.
Q: What is your favorite type of music?
A: I have no favorites. I like all music. There is a seven CD changer at home and you can find reggae, country, rock, rap, big band and classical. I listen to everything.
Q: What is your favorite food or type of food?
A: Pizza definitely. You can put anything on it. Seafood is also up there. Shrimp, lobster, crab. As a kid I grew up with fishing and good seafood.
Q: If there was anywhere you could live other than Socorro where would it be?
A: I would probably try Seattle. I like the rain and it’s close to the ocean. I hear it’s beautiful. I’m actually traveling there for a seven day cruise starting on June 1st with my son Chris and my granddaughter.
Q: If you could change one thing about Socorro, what would it be?
A: For such a small community I would like to see the police force get rid of the drugs. In my opinion I don’t know why they can’t crack down on it in a town like this. And it’s not just one simple fix. With some teenagers raising themselves because they have nothing to do after school of course they are using drugs. It’s a sad situation.
While typically working an 8-5 shift Monday to Friday, Joyce Atkinson is on call 24/7 like most of her fellow staff. If you or a loved one are in need of health care assistance visit their website at sub.trescoinc.org or walk into their office located just South of the town plaza.