On Friday, June 14, 2019 Missions Inc. Programs held an open house to celebrate 40 years of our Mission Detox Center and to rededicate the program after its longtime former director, Judy Retterath. Below are the remarks from our Associate Director, Katy Daniels, and Program Director, Jessica Sprenger.
Remarks by Associate
“Good afternoon. Thank you so much for coming to this incredible event on this beautiful day. Before I begin I’d like to thank the Retterath family for being here. Your presence makes this day all the more special. I would also ask all of the staff from Mission Detox Center who are here with us today, to please stand and be recognized for the extraordinary work you do each day. You are quite literally saving lives. Thank you.
As I thought about Judy, and what I wanted to say about her today, I quickly realized there simply is too much to say…and not enough. Judy was many things. She was a mother, and she had a family who she loved and adored and about whom she would talk to anyone who would listen. She loved garage sailing, going to the movies, and she especially loved her ballooning collection of antiques and junk that filled, and sometimes quite literally filled up, many of the spaces she occupied, including her office here.
But, to those of us who were fortunate enough to know Judy as a colleague and a friend. This place behind me, this was Judy, too.
Judy threw herself full-throttle into this work, into the people she was here to serve, because to her, it mattered, and they mattered. It was extremely important to Judy that anyone who came through those doors received the absolute best care possible. She expected from her team of professionals, including CD Techs, Nurses and Counselors, that they embrace a philosophy of service that put the person first. She did this long before that notion became a trend in the human services world.
Judy just knew to do it instinctively.
She worked tirelessly not just in service to the people who needed what she could give, but on their behalf as well. She was a mover and a shaker inside the chemical health provider world, lending her voice at meetings and trainings in which she insisted that any discussion about how we should approach the subject of addiction and intoxication be conducted with the sole intention of making those services better and more responsive. This was sometimes in the face of lawmakers who were gathered with the singular focus of figuring out how to save money by providing fewer services. Judy pretty much just ignored them, quipping, “Oh no, you’re not doing that.”
And you know what? They listened.
Mission Detox Center opened 41 years ago, but the work had been going on here on this campus for decades before that. Missions Inc. had been operating treatment services since the late 1940’s, and in 1967 began providing detoxification services for people waiting to get into our now-defunct Pioneer House inpatient treatment program. This was done without any kind of licensing or formal arrangement, as those laws had yet to be written, but was born out of necessity, out of an understanding that people needed a safe place to be before they could get into treatment, that withdrawal from alcohol and other chemicals could be a difficult and painful experience, and that if the first step towards recovery had to begin in withdrawal, we should make that experience as tolerable as possible.
But it was in 1978 that Mission Detox Center formally opened, and while the services provided were not that different from those of its pre-curser program, I believe that the quality of those services were greatly enhanced by increased funding, coordinated industry standards, the on-boarding of a dedicated and professional staff, and by the newly hired night nurse, Judy Retterath.
Although Judy retired in 2010, her philosophy of service continues to be the cornerstone of how Mission Detox Center approaches its work. No matter how someone arrives, either of their own volition or as brought by law enforcement, they are met by a team committed to make their stay as comfortable, dignified, and productive as possible. With over 2,000 admissions annually, this is a busy place. While here, people receive:
- medically monitored detoxification and withdrawal management,
- nursing care,
- rule 25 assessments that provide a pathway to treatment,
- individualized discharge planning, which includes referral for continued assistance.
These services are provided by a core group of well-trained technicians, nurses, and counselors who are dedicated to the highest care possible.
Judy would be proud of this program … Proud because we have continued her legacy, but even more proud that we have built upon that legacy by continuing to grow and do better. As we embrace a future as Withdrawal Management, we will be able to serve more people and in exceedingly better ways (of which Jessica will talk about in a minute). Judy would be so proud of that!
With the new licensing, the opportunity arose to change our name, removing the outdated term “detox” and replacing it with something more reflective of who we are. It took only a fraction of a second to decide what the new name should be. Of course we would rededicate this space to the woman who helped make it what it is. Judy Retterath. It really was a no-brainer – even to those who’d never met Judy, but who had simply heard about her and her approach to this work.
Judy passed away in 2013. I think she would be humbled, slightly embarrassed, but exceptionally honored to have this program named in her memory.
And, it is our honor, to do so.”
-Katy Daniels, MSW, LGSW, Associate Director
Remarks by Program Director
“We are honored and privileged to build on Judy’s legacy as we move forward with our services through the next forty plus years here at Missions, Inc.
In the last year that I have served as the Program Director, it has been heart wrenching for me to see our clients in opiate withdrawal suffer the way they do. Moving forward, withdrawal management licensing will allow us to administer and provide Suboxone to our clients, helping them to feel more comfortable as they experience their withdrawal symptoms. We want to help in our communities and partner with local agencies and hospitals to service our clients who’ve fallen victim to opiate addiction.
With nearly 50,000 deaths in 2017* and 422 deaths in MN* alone, our country is facing an opioid epidemic. These reports do not include the most recent crisis in Minnesota between March 27th and June 8th where there were 175 overdoses and of those, 17 were fatal*. All specific to opioids.
We want to be a part of the solution in our communities by partnering and providing efficient and effective treatment and prevention services to those most in need.
By the renaming of Mission Detox Center to the Judy Retterath Withdrawal Management Center, this will mark the beginning of what our future will be, of which I think as Katy mentioned, Judy would be most proud.
I would like to take this time to recognize all of Judy’s family members (all stand) and ask that her daughter Heidi step forward to share a few words about her mother…”
-Jessica Sprenger, Program Director, Judy Retterath Withdrawal Management Center
- 422 opioid deaths in MN – 2017, Department of Health
- Nearly 50, 000 opioid deaths nationally, 2017 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- 175 opioid overdoses, 17 fatal in MN – Grand Forks Herald, June 8th