Voices from the Field
Social workers are doing amazing work on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic, to address systemic racism, and to support clients through innovative approaches and dedication. This page will highlight stories from NASWVA members around Virginia.
To share your story, please reach out to Executive Director, Debra Riggs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 17, 2020
Medical Social Worker/Bereavement Coordinator Tries to Stay Healthy Herself to Help Clients through Their Final Days
Hospice and bereavement work is difficult at the best of times, but the COVID-19 pandemic has placed an unprecedented burden on professionals in the field. NASW Virginia turned to member Alexis Stribbling, LCSW, a bereavement coordinator and recently licensed medical social worker for AT Home Care, for an idea of how she and her colleagues are coping as they continue to serve clients in their final days.
“I'm doing way better than I was,” says Stribbling. “… Obviously, we have a huge influx of COVID patients, so there's complicated grief. There are people who didn't get to see their loved ones if they've been in a facility. It's been a whirlwind, … but I am in a lot more stable place than I was back in March, even June.”
July 16, 2020
Managing the Now While Working toward a Racially Equitable Future: Advice from a Biracial Social Worker
Alexis Stribbling is a 28-year-old biracial bereavement social worker who—unlike many biracial people—identifies both as Black and white. After listening to her insights and stories during the NASW Virginia Town Hall on Racial Justice and Equality June 23, the chapter asked if she would share her experiences more widely through an interview. She agreed, and we thank her for her courage and candor. We encourage all social workers to read her advice for what white and non-Black social workers can do to better support Black colleagues.
“My biggest piece of advice is--if you approach your colleagues--hold on to those race questions,” says Alexis. “We as a Black community are tired. I've heard that from many of my colleagues and friends. It's all of these images repeatedly in the news on Facebook or Instagram of all this police brutality and Black people losing their lives on top of [being] isolated during a pandemic. You have to remember that's all [we] know as a group together.
“Just like with any training, … we don't go to someone who's mentally ill and say, ‘Hey, can you educate us on your variance?’ It's not on them to do the work. Don’t put pressure on your coworkers. They’re having to survive.”
She recommends turning to outside experts such as “social justice warriors” or people who’ve devoted their lives to discussing and leading diversity initiatives.
May 25, 2020
NASW Virginia Member Jeannine Moga, MA, MSW, LCSW, Details How COVID-19 Is Affecting Her Social Work
NASW Virginia: How is the pandemic affecting your daily duties and workload as a social work professional?
JEANNINE MOGA: “Given that I work as a private practice therapist and consultant, I have more flexibility than many social workers, so I have transitioned my practice work from home 100% of the time. I worked from home half-time before the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, though, so the shift hasn't been as disruptive to me as to some of my colleagues.”
April 15, 2020
How COVID-19 Has Changed the Daily Lives of Virginia Social Workers
Interviews with Heather Stone, PhD, LCSW & David Lewis, LCSW
The transformation took just one business week, but it was a frantic five days as Heather Stone, PhD, LCSW, moved the patient caseload and operations of Central Virginia Health Services (CVHS) in Petersburg to a completely virtual environment.
As director of behavioral health services, Dr. Stone and her team of 16 behavioral health clinicians and staff found that—like so many social workers across the state—their daily work habits turned upside down when COVID-19 creeped into Virginia, creating unprecedented anxiety and fear while simultaneously interrupting mental health care and turning even toilet paper into a stressor.
Although telehealth is touted for its convenience and increased physical safety, social workers are finding that it also has drawbacks both expected (i.e., internet access issues) and surprising (i.e., a potentially exhausting fast, relentless pace).
David Lewis, LCSW, a trauma therapist at ReadyKids with a private practice in Crozet, Va., finds it “much more difficult to feel I am meeting the needs of my clients effectively.” Some of his patients, for instance, respond only occasionally to phone or email contact.
Recently honored as NASWVA Social Worker of the Year, Lewis also finds that teletherapy makes assessing client needs more difficult, as well as responding to crises and starting services.