This month our colleague and wonderful trailblazer, Ruth Benfield, vice president of Psycho-Social Services, retired after 37 years of service at Seattle Children’s. Benfield came to Children’s in 1977, hired as the nursing director for outpatient clinics and as a nurse practitioner. Over the years Benfield has been an administrator over almost every single operational department at Children’s with the exception of the operating room.

Under the umbrella of Psycho-Social Services lives the inpatient psychiatric unit, outpatient psychiatry services including mental health services at Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center, and the Autism Center. The Autism Center opened in 2009, during a time that many thought it was crazy to expand; a recession underway and no precedent for this kind of a center.

Dr. Gary Stobbe, Program Director of Adult Autism Transition Services at Seattle Children’s Autism Center, says, “Ruth was involved from inception to launch and was the critical voice with Children’s leadership, convincing them of the importance of the Autism Center program. What I have appreciated most from Ruth is her unending support of our work at the Autism Center. Without her voice within the hospital, I doubt we could have ever opened our doors, let alone serve the families that have seen us over the past four years.”

Director of Seattle Children’s Child Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine and Program Director at Seattle Children’s Autism Center, Dr. Bryan King, shares the sentiment, “The impact Ruth has had is probably impossible to capture. I think it’s fair to say there might not be an Autism Center without her.”

So as we pause to appreciate the wonderful contributions Benfield has made to Seattle Children’s and the Autism Center in particular, please take a look at how she is celebrating her career, by garnering support for Seattle Children’s Journey Program, a program for any family who has experienced the death of a child. The program provides support to help families cope with death, loss and the grieving process. Learn how you can contribute to this invaluable program.