Employees at CHG Healthcare Receive Coverage of Autism Therapies Thanks to One Mother’s Efforts
5 ½ years ago MaShel West, a resident of Layton, Utah, noticed that her youngest child, Lucas, was displaying behavior that differed noticeably from her two older children when they were the same age. At age 3, Lucas was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and began receiving therapies and behavioral interventions.
According to a report this month by the news site Deseret.com, West soon realized that the resources provided by the Davis School Strict, such as speech therapy and specialized classes, were insufficient for Lucas’s needs. Eventually, Davis discovered applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapy, though the $3,000 a month out-of-pocket expense was unfortunately not feasible.
Nearing the point of desperation, West approached her employers, Scott Beck, CEO of CHG Healthcare, and Kevin Rickleffs, the organization’s senior vice president of talent management. Rickleffs said that hearing West’s story brought the plight of parents of children with autism and the need for services “to the forefront, at least in my mind. It just allowed us to begin exploring what should we do as an organization.” He explained that knowing West wasn’t the only parent out of the 2,500-employee company in need of these autism services drove home the importance of covering the cost. Rickleffs added that, in addition providing much-needed therapy for children with autism, offering those vital services builds loyalty and increases the retention of valuable employees.
“She’s engaged and she’s appreciative and she works really hard,” Rickleffs said, according to Deseret’s report. “She puts in the extra effort when she has to and that’s all really important to us. So it keeps retention very high. It creates a great experience and she’s our biggest fan now.”
West’s outreach to her employers has a had a positive ripple effect, creating a community and support network of parents of children with autism at the company. Braden Blackham, another CHG employee, said speaking with West after his daughter’s autism diagnosis gave him a new perspective on how to handle the situation, and a more positive outlook.
“I came from real estate where I had zero benefits, so I know what it’s like to have zero benefits and have emergencies like this happen and not be covered,” Blackham said. “To have something like this and have it be so hard, and then find out that it is covered and that it’s not going to break our family. It’s huge, we’re so grateful.”