Thursday, October 8, 2020
Peg Reit spent over 27 years advocating for youth and families at Boys Town.
Even after being diagnosed with cancer, she continued to work every day to make a difference in the lives of children and families. Unfortunately, in June of this year, she lost a courageous bout to cancer. But her tireless work did not go unrecognized as the Nebraska Association of Behavioral Health Organizations (NABHO) recently named her as its 2020 Professional of the Year. This is the first time a Boys Town employee has won the award. She was honored in a virtual celebration on October 7.
The individual chosen for the NABHO award demonstrates outstanding leadership qualities and a commitment to supporting their peers and building alliances that strengthens the behavioral health system of care. Peg was a role model for other professionals in the behavioral health field.
As an administrator at Boys Town's Residential Treatment Center (RTC), she worked behind the scenes for NABHO in advocating for positive and constructive changes in Nebraska's mental health and Medicaid regulations. She spent countless hours reviewing and analyzing existing regulations with the goal of removing those that did not improve quality, patient care, or patient safety.
Peg developed an effective system of not only identifying what changes were necessary, but also proposing clear and concise language for regulations. As a result, she was effective in helping NABHO bring about significant changes in telehealth and child/adolescent related regulations. Additionally, in order to improve access to mental health and substance abuse services, she was a strong advocate for mental health parity and more equitable provider rates.
Peg worked on behalf of Boys Town Behavioral Health to expand the RTC, open the first new child inpatient program in over thirty years, and develop telehealth outpatient psychiatry services to improve rural access and provide continuity of service for children and adolescents in their home community.
Throughout her career at Boys Town, Peg was a passionate advocate for children and families. She humanized the psychiatric environment. Pat Connell, Vice President of Behavioral Health Services and Government Relations, who worked directly with Peg stated “She was determined to ensure that every child who entered Boys Town's services had a positive experience. She knew the traumas and heartaches of these children and was determined to make a difference. She always made sure that in addition to therapeutic services, there were plenty of seasonal activities for the children to engage in and that positive memories would be created while at Boys Town."
The holidays were a special time for Peg. She was acutely aware that many of the children in Boys Town's care had limited positive experiences during the holiday seasons. She made it her own personal mission to ensure the facility was festively decorated both inside and out. She was constantly looking for innovative ways to help children in the program celebrate and to experience the joys of each holiday season.
Peg was working on several new and expanded programs before she passed away. One of her colleagues, Dennis Vollmer, Director of Boys Town Residential Treatment Center, said she will be sorely missed not only for her spirit and passion in serving behavioral health patients and their families, but also for her relentless determination in improving Nebraska's mental health system.
“When I first met Peg, she immediately impressed me with her determined nature, advocacy for children, and sense of humor," Dennis said. “As my close colleague, she continued to display her strong will, determined spirit, and dedication to children. But it was during the past seven years that she and I worked together virtually daily. Her vision and clear thinking contributed to improvements in the design of our second RTC building as well as being a primary contributor to the overall design of the Inpatient Psychiatric Unit. She will be greatly missed."
Peg is survived by her loving husband, Kyle. Boys Town and Peg's family are determined to keep her memory alive through a memorial scholarship fund directed to the Boys Town kids who need it most. The “Peg Reit Memorial Scholarship" will go to a Boys Town senior that has spent time receiving services at the RTC.
Through your support, her legacy can live on for years to come.