Sidebar: When Trauma Strikes a Professional Personally

June 27, 2008
By

Jacqueline Rue, case manager for the Boston Healthy Start Initiative at Martha Eliot Health Center, knows about trauma because of her profession; she also now knows what it is like from personal experience.

She “lived at the hospital for six weeks,” after her son Sean Rue, 25, was shot last summer, Rue, who is a member of the new trauma response team, said in an interview.

Her son was shot last August during a visit to Bromley-Heath, where he had grown up before the Rue family moved to Randolph.

In addition to just having someone to talk to, the MEHC staffer said, she would have appreciated having someone to help with an array of logistical issues—from dealing with parking to making sure her other children were taken care of. She also said she would have liked to have someone to act as a liaison with family and friends, so she would not have had to keep repeating the story.

Albert Rue, her husband, is a retired Boston Police officer and Gang Resistance Education and Training Officer, and the family had, in the past, reached out to troubled youths he met through his work.

“I grew up in Bromley-Heath,” Jacqueline Rue said, “I hate using the word ‘gang.’ To me it is ‘troubled youth.’”

After her son was shot, she said she noticed that suddenly, “We needed the same assistance we had provided to other families.”

And while the Rues did receive “a huge amount of support from MEHC,” she said she is now starkly aware of some basic needs the trauma response team should strive to meet.

“Nobody has money set aside in case her son gets shot,” she said.

Having someone who could provide small practical necessities during the time her son was in the hospital—like parking and food vouchers, clean underwear, a pen and paper and a disposable cell phone—would have been very useful, she said.

It would also have been great, Rue said, if someone had been available to check in with her other children at home in Randolph. “My kids were calling from home saying, ‘Mom, I’m hungry’…It also would have been nice to get some counseling for my children.”

A community responder can also be “a liaison between you and your family and friends,” she said, “so you don’t have to repeat the story over and over.”

That story eventually had a happy ending. Sean Rue made a full recovery, and he is currently planning to attend UMass Boston to study physical therapy (PT), his mother said.

“PT played a huge role in helping him to get himself back together…It was a long, tooth-grinding process of learning to walk again,” she said.

David Taber