Social workers are in all walks of life
March is National Social Work Month and Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital salutes its social workers who provide hope, education, support and tools to vulnerable populations in every imaginable and unimaginable situation.
Vickie Bruckerhoff, LCSW (licensed clinical social worker) at SGCMH said social workers play a vital role in hospitals and society.
“There are 650,000 social workers in the nation,” she said. “You’ll find social workers in over 100 different practice areas like mental health, child welfare, policy, community, schools and hospitals, to name just a few. As social work professionals, we’re trained to navigate the interaction between human development and behavior and social economic and cultural institutions. It’s quite diverse.”
Bruckerhoff explained that social workers are trained to look at situations in a different way.
“We’re trained in a generalist perspective, which helps us move forward in other more specialized areas,” she explained. “But the generalist addresses all human behavior.”
Bruckerhoff’s role at the hospital is that of outpatient counselor, treating ages five to the elderly. She deals with family counseling, relationship issues, divorce, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and many other areas.
To help her in counseling sessions, Bruckerhoff many times relies on her “assistant”—a seven-year-old Min Pin, named Rebel. This canine is very attentive to her clients.
“As a therapy dog, Rebel loves to work with people,” she said. “If nothing more, he sets the tone for trust and touching. In my seven years of working with him he has never picked the wrong patient regardless of who was in the room with me. Often times, children don’t want to talk to me, but they find it easy to talk to him.”
Bruckerhoff’s counterpart, Brandie Filer, LCSW, works the inpatient side of the hospital. Filer handles any counseling that may need to be handled in the hospital setting, helps people navigate the system and is aware of resources that patients may not know about.
“It’s very useful to have a social worker in the hospital,” said Bruckerhoff. “Our health system social workers are often ‘behind the scenes,’ working diligently to strengthen the social and medical safety nets for many of our patients.”
Bruckerhoff, also the Southeast Missouri Chair for the National Association of Social Workers-MO Chapter, provides her counseling services at the Pointe Basse Family Health Care 573-883-2782. Brandie Filer can be reached at the hospital at 573-883-2751.