La Hacienda's Treatment and Recovery Blog

Sherri Layton and Pam Searfoss

‘Unsung hero’ retires from Continuing Care

Photo: Sherri Layton presented Pam Searfoss with a coffee mug and compass during Pam’s retirement reception.

For the past seven years, Pam Searfoss has been an encouraging voice on the phone asking former patients how they are doing in the days, weeks and months following treatment.

As Alumni Followup Coordinator, she tried to check on each of them one week, 90 days and one year after discharge. She heard the good news and the bad, and lent support when needed.

“Pam is one of La Hacienda’s unsung heroes,” says her boss, Outpatient Services Administrator Sherri Layton. “She’s spent thousands of hours on the phone. She got to hear how well some are doing after treatment and how their lives were being restored. She was also a source of support for those who were struggling and helped them get reconnected.”

A Job Done Well

Pam retired effective December 27, and Alan Ammentorp has returned to Continuing Care to take up the coordinator’s responsibilities.

They’re former coworkers who were once known as “Thing 1 and Thing 2” after the Dr. Seuss twins because they talk and think alike.

The duties Pam passes to Alan include preparing the daily discharge phase rosters, participating in the planning and production of the annual Reunion in May, and assisting with special projects.

And she has set a high standard.

“Pam has quietly gathered a lot of information about the outcomes of our treatment program that enable us to make it and our continuing care planning better. And she is a big reason our annual reunions have come together so smoothly,” says Sherri.

Employment in Time of Need

Pam’s time on the La Hacienda staff began, unfortunately, due to the illness of her late husband, Bill. He was working in the Maintenance Department when he was diagnosed with cancer.

Bill’s paid medical leave was depleted by his illness, so Pam took the only job available at the time: dishwasher in the kitchen. She spent three months there, followed by 18 months as a second shift direct care attendant, then two years at the front gate.

Then Sherri hired her for the Continuing Care Office, where she’s been ever since.

Love, Care, and Support

Because Bill had worked here before her, Pam says she felt like part of the LaHa family from the start. When he passed away in 2010, La Hacienda held a memorial service.

“One of the strongest feelings I have about my time here is the love, care and support that we were given through Bill’s illness and death,” says Pam. “It was also a big part of my healing.”

“This place is amazing. There is so much kindness here.”

Back to the Ranch

In retirement, Pam will work on her ranch near Harper, where she has a large organic garden. She plans to start selling her veggies, home-baked goods, and botanical products at the Kerrville Farmers Market next spring.

She will also have more time to spend with family, a son and granddaughter in San Marcos, and stepdaughter and two grandchildren in Georgia.

At a retirement reception, Sherri presented Pam with a compass representing the work she has done “to help people find their way.”

Promising to return for Reunion and other occasions, Pam told her co-workers that she plans on using the compass to “know where home is.”