Social Work Month: How Social Workers are Making a Difference for Legacy Patients

By Carolina Boyd, Communications Associate

During the month of March, we celebrate the contributions social workers have been making in the United States for over a century. Throughout the profession’s history, social workers have sought to ensure that all people have access to resources to meet their basic needs.

Across the Houston and Southeast Texas, Legacy Community Health has 16 social workers who advocate for patients every day for their social services’ needs. The interdisciplinary collaboration between medical staff and the social work team is an essential element of effective patient care.

“Without the help of the Legacy social work team, I would not feel confident in our team’s ability to help patients achieve true improvement in their health. Our social work team has made a huge impact in our patients’ lives,” said Dr. Amelia Averyt, Medical Director of Family Medicine at Legacy. “I can attest to the fact that our social work team has saved lives and improved so many more.”

The duties of social workers in the healthcare field are as varied as the patients they serve. Each case is unique, which require social workers to adjust to a variety of needs.

“Would not be able to take good care of patients without our social worker Tony. His help is critical in providing patient care—assisting with everything from legal information to food and housing,” said Legacy OB/GYN Physician Dr. Pamela St. Amand. “So many of our patients have need for transportation as well. We just could not function without a social worker on our team. He is the best!”

Many times, the challenges for providers working with patients is to help them see and understand that there is a solution for the fear and pain they are experiencing. It’s a sentiment echoed by Legacy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vian Nguyen. As an OB/GYN Physician, she recalls one particular young pregnant patient.

“She looked so scared. In that moment, I could not say for sure if she felt safe or not. When I stepped outside of the exam room, I met with our clinic social worker about my concerns,” said Nguyen. “When I wrapped up my visit with my patient, I let her know one of my colleagues was coming to talk to her alone.  In that moment, I felt relieved to be handing her off to someone who cared about her just as much as I did.”

There are Legacy clinics also located in 33 Houston-area KIPP, YES Prep and Galena Park ISD schools. Patients at these school-based health clinics have benefitted from social services for a variety of needs including: school advocacy assistance, food insufficiency, general community resources and summer programs for children.

“I value our social work department and feel like a better provider because of the support they provide to my patients. Most recently, I have had the generous support of our social workers who have presented on specialized topics for the school counselors, student support specialists and behavioral specialists at our district partner schools within our School Based Health Care Program,” said Roma Bhatt, Senior Director of School-Based Behavioral Health.

It’s important to know that support is available to Legacy patients dealing with a wide variety of health issues. Talk to your medical or behavioral health provider to get a referral for a social worker. Call 832-548-5000 to schedule an appointment with your Legacy healthcare professional.