St. Joseph's Social Workers Add Students to Team
St. Joseph of the Pines Health System boasts employing two seasoned clinical social workers with 26 years of experience between them.
Recently, though, Beth Price and Raymond Esteves, have taken on additional duties that, on the flip side, are generating rewards for themselves and for those residing at the Health Center.
In a cooperative effort with Sandhills Community College, specifically Patricia Harris' Human Services class, two student interns selected St. Joseph of the Pines to fulfill their co-op requirements. As it turns out, both parties are on the receiving end of a gratifying partnership -- veteran social workers gaining additional hands, eyes and ears from motivated students, and the latter being able to draw upon the skills of many St. Joseph associates in various departments.
Students Jodi Harrell and Christopher Melvin were promised a well-rounded educational experience when Esteves visited with the college's human services students in Harris' class. Information was exchanged and shortly thereafter Harrell and Melvin joined the St. Joseph's team for their 160-hour practicum.
"I see us as a Jack and Jill of all trades," says Price, who came to the skilled nursing care facility, the Health Center, 15 years ago. "We help bring a more human and compassionate side to medicine, all the time reminding people in the community what St. Joseph is here for."
Price scurries down the halls that are not yet brightened by the outside light, toward her office, coffee in one hand, charts in the other, donning a colorful smock that sports rollicking bright-eyed kittens. She stops off at nursing stations before daybreak to familiarize herself with patient-related matters that may have transpired during the several hours she left campus to garner time to herself.
She'll make it to her office in the Rehabilitation Unit before most of her charges rise. As she opens her door she is greeted by pictures and cards from therapy dogs that frequent the facility and of the cats in her family. If not for the patient-linked paraphernalia cluttering the room -- tools of the trade says Price -- her office would be an inviting, open and generous headquarters. She slips into her chair, checks for messages, and then she's on the move again to tend to her residents' needs, consult with physicians and coworkers, and respond to requests from patients and family members.
"There's so much more involved than saying 'good morning!' each day. Everyone comes from a different background. They have different stories to tell. They have different family dynamics; they have different and ever-changing needs." said Price.
Her fondness for the long-term residents and short-term rehabilitation clients in her care is reciprocated. Residents can count on her to run to the store for them should their electric razor give out or if they have a longing for a cuisine not included on the daily menu. Rehabilitation Unit patients know she has enough clout or enthusiasm as the case may be, to make things happen for their comfort and recovery.
In contrast to Price's small stature, blue eyes, and blond hair, is the towering, engaging and charismatic image portrayed by her counterpart, Raymond Esteves.
No less her equal when it comes to capturing the hearts and respect of everyone he connects with, Esteves, in Price's eyes, as well as so many others at St. Joseph of the Pines, eased into his role effortlessly and genuinely.
"I like the overall picture here. There are good people to work with," he says. "The residents are from all different cultures and backgrounds."
Esteves has been with St. Joseph Health Center for about six months. His previous 11 years of social work experience focused primarily on the younger generation.
"I consider it a privilege to be able to work here and learn the field of gerontology," he says.
Esteves feels right at home around people. He hails from New Jersey and grew up in a large extended family.
"It was fun to live with so many family members and I truly enjoyed being around so many people," he says.
A Rutgers University graduate, Esteves balances an active family life with his wife and two daughters together with his commitment to the numerous responsibilities associated with his job. Even so, he is focused on his future and the goal of pursuing his master's degree.
Soon Esteves will travel to Myrtle Beach, S.C., each weekend, not on vacation, but instead, to sit in class with books and pen in an effort to add to his accomplishments. He says he can appreciate the drive he sees in the two Sandhills Community College students he and Price have taken under their guidance.
"The interns get to know what life is like in this field," he says.
Price interjects, saying, "They get a snapshot picture of day to day activities in a skilled nursing care environment."
Jake Bell, administrator of Health Services for St. Joseph of the Pines, heavily relies on the social workers for a current and accurate picture of the residents' activities and needs at the Health Center.
"Beth Price and Raymond Esteves are pivotal members of the care team at St. Joseph of the Pines," he says. "As our social workers, they serve as resident and family advocates, working to resolve questions or concerns quickly. Their responsibilities range from admission and welcome of the new residents to the facility, to going to the store to purchase popcorn shrimp for a resident that has a special craving. We have been blessed to have had Beth with our organization for 15 years, and to have been able to recruit Raymond to join us last year."
Both Price and Esteves are very complimentary of Harrell and Melvin.
"It's good to have a fresh new mindset. When they come in, new energy gets brought to the residents," says Esteves.
"I really appreciate the curiosity of the interns," says Price.
Esteves says the big advantage of having interns is that it helps the clinical social workers "meet everyone's needs in the facility."
While Harrell and Melvin will find themselves buried under paperwork from time to time, Esteves says that's "just another side of learning, like working with the different disciplines, such as nursing and billing."
"I do appreciate their curiosity and feel we provide them with a quality educational service," he says. "I guarantee they won't be the same when they leave here."
Jeralie Andrews is director of volunteer services for St. Joseph.
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