“Social workers get forgotten because we work in so many settings. This is the ongoing conversation about us streamlining that and being seen as leaders in disaster response. Everyone automatically thinks of doctors and nurses when they talk about health care workers but while we are dealing with this viral pandemic, we are forgetting how much behavioral health is behind this. Who are the people in the communities doing this work day in and day out? It is social workers.”
– Lisa Jones-Chandler, LCSW
Throughout this pandemic, there have been so many articles discussing the importance of first responders. Many of us would not have survived this pandemic without the help of nurses and doctors risking their lives daily as this public health crisis continues to ravage the country and the world.
However, I would like to shine a light on social workers, as this helping profession is often overlooked, and an integral part of the healthcare system. Without them, many of your sick loved ones would not be cared for, as they wait to be admitted or discharged from hospitals. Many social workers act as members of support when sick patients battle COVID-19 alone in hospital beds without their families or friends. In addition, the homeless population would not be cared for or monitored for symptoms of COVID-19 without social workers. I myself have been in the social work profession for eight years, and had the privilege of interviewing a fellow social work professional, Maurice Gaines.
How long have you been working in the social work profession?
I’ve been working in the social work profession for the last 10 years.
What is your specialization? What population do you work with?
My specialization is clinical social work. I currently work in the field of medical social work. The populations that I see varies from day to day and depends on which unit I’m covering.
What inspired you to become a Social Worker?
So, not to sound cliché but I really just wanted to help people. Growing up my uncle suffered from Schizophrenia. Throughout my childhood I watched my family struggle with the difficult challenges that come with this illness. I grew up just wanting to help people that were in similar situations.
What has it been like for you operating as an essential worker during COVID-19?
OMG! to say stressful would be an understatement. During the peak of COVID-19, I was assigned to the ICU COVID-19 unit. At the beginning, I was worried about both my mental and physical health. Luckily, I had the support of my colleagues, family and friends to keep my spirits up.
What has been the most challenging part of your work?
I would say the most challenging part of my work is being exposed to positive COVID-19 patients. Another challenge would be watching patients lose their battle alone since visitation is limited at the hospital. Lastly, it’s been a struggle to not take things personal. For example, I receive calls from patients’ families requesting updates, support and many times to vent. I’ve basically been an emotional punching bag for anxious, sad, and angry family members of patients.
What keeps you motivated?
Witnessing successful discharges from the hospital and participating in hospital clap outs.
How do recent events regarding the murder of George Floyd in the ongoing protests impact how you show up to work?
For one, I’m now able to have healthy dialogue with my co-workers. In the past, we have neglected to address race in America. More specifically within the healthcare system. Many of these dialogues has become teaching moments for all of us.
How do you practice self-care?
When I’m not extremely tired I try to workout. I recently started to put my phone on do not disturb and just go to sleep.
We appreciate ALL our frontline workers as this pandemic continues.