newssaving gabe part ii

Saving Gabe, Part II


Julie Irvine has been fighting for the Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents for the past several weeks. Now she’s facing another fight.
“I have no insurance at the end of the month,” said Irvine, whose 9-year-old son, Gabe, has been in and out of hospitals dating back to last summer for treatment for depression and pervasive development disorder, a form of autism, and who is now out of a job.

Irvine thinks her recent termination from her job as the manager of the Ntelos retail store on Richmond Road in Staunton could have something to do with her struggles in the past several months to get Gabe into the right treatment program and her decision to go public with her push to have the state keep open the CCCA, which had been slated for closure in June in Gov. Tim Kaine’s amended budget for 2009-2010.

Irvine walked the halls of the Virginia General Assembly to lobby legislators to save the Commonwealth Center, which Irvine said was instrumental in getting her son back on the right track. The good news this week is that the proposed closure of the Center appears to be a dead issue. Dr. James Reinhard, the commissioner of the Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, said this week that he thinks the Center will remain open given that the House of Delegates and the State Senate have both voted to include funding for continued operations at the CCCA in their respective budgets.

But that political victory is little solace to Irvine now, who is without a safety net having lost her job.

“I’m trying to get something to make sense,” Irvine said of her dismissal earlier this month. She shared with me documents related to her dismissal that do raise some questions about why she was let go, including a rambling complaint cited in one document from an unidentified customer that seemed to be personally motivated in nature.

A company official with whom I spoke said he could not offer comment on Irvine’s case specifically, but said that generally the company follows a procedure related to terminations that involves extensive communication between employees and management regarding issues that have been raised with an employee’s performance and expectations with respect to addresing those issues.

“It could have been my boss had a direct problem with me. There are so many possibilities. What I know is, my termination was because I was eight minutes late to a meeting,” Irvine said.

Gabe is back home, though Irvine is far from thinking that they’re out of the woods as far as his need for treatment in the future goes.

“At this point, without a job, without insurance, I don’t know what to do,” Irvine said.


– Story by Chris Graham



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