For those of you who may have read our professional introduction blogs, some of this may be a review. For those who have not dug into our blog archive this story will help you understand why I believe integration is so important and how I ended up at Ampersand.
My Journey as a Social Worker
There are many different pathways one can take with the end goal of working in Mental/Behavioral health. I happened to choose the Social Work pathway, which provided me the knowledge base and background work of social justice, advocacy, case management, and counseling. From the start, this gave me the knowledge that an integrative and multidisciplinary approach is the best approach to client care. While in school, I had two internships. One of them was a NYC Senior Center where I would do home visits for homebound seniors. The other I worked on an Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team caring for the most vulnerable mental health clients throughout Harlem, Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. Both of these internships highlighted the importance of working with a multidisciplinary team in the community and within hospital settings to compassionately care for my clients. In fact, the premise of ACT is to have a team of professionals (nurse, doctor, vocational specialist, educational specialist, social worker, activities coordinator) regularly visit the clients in their homes to make sure that their entire being is cared for.
After graduation, I spent the next 4 years working at two different Manhattan based hospitals, as part of yet another multidisciplinary team in a medical setting and a psychiatric setting. While we as staff all worked together to care for our patients, I still felt prohibited (by hospital protocol and the nature of being inpatient) from providing the best possible care for my patients. Once someone left the unit, we never knew whether or not they followed up with the services we arranged for them. Heck, we didn’t even know if they wanted the services we set up for them half the time. So this is when I decided to go back to school for a Masters in Health Care Administration, with the hopes of one day being able to be part of a new type of healthcare system. One that allowed the client to lead their care, and had clinicians working together to maximize all therapeutic aspects of the care.
Insert a time lapse, a few other jobs, and meeting my wonderful Ampersand colleagues and here we are today. A collective group of individuals, who all specialize in one area of healthcare, but recognize the need to utilize other avenues of care in order to best benefit our clients. As humans we are not just our mental health, our sore muscles, or the food we eat. We are the sum of every little piece of us that may eventually break down. And therefore we cannot treat one part of us, without treating the rest of us.
While I knew this already, this became even more evident the past few months as I have embarked on a new journey, pregnancy! Oh boy, are we as women not told enough about the bodily changes we go through. Movies make it seem so simple, you get morning sickness and then your fine. There is no talk about the acid reflux, the eyesight changes, the lack of appetite, the insomnia, the mood swings, or the sciatica. It is not until the symptoms happen to you that a friend or family member says “Oh yes, that is completely normal.” Well thank you for the warning…NOT! Maybe it wouldn’t have been so scary if I was told beforehand. But don’t worry, I have been in good hands, because I have had an integrative team of lovely individuals at my fingertips to help me each step of the way.
My Integration Experience
When I had acid reflux in the first trimester, when I was told I was iron deficient, or when I failed my first glucose test … I had my nutritionist. To keep my body agile and physically healthy enough to carry some extra weight … I had two amazing personal trainers. When my joints started to get too loose and my sciatica had me crawling around instead of being able to walk … I had my massage and cupping therapist. And as I prepare for labor and delivery, needing to find calming music … I have my music therapist. If I could benefit from everyone in this building this much (in only 7 months) imagine how our clients could benefit over their lifetime from an integrative approach to their health.
Empowering You to Thrive
Ampersand is embarking on it’s 2nd year (I would say terrible two’s but hell this first year in a pandemic has been rough enough). We hope to finally be able to bring you all our integrative programming. To show our community the importance of integrating the care we provide, and to maximize the health of our clients so that they can thrive not only in 2021, but for the entirety of life.