Although newer to our ministry, Leona, MSW, is planting herself in her role as a social worker in the case management department with St. Francis Health.
“I really wanted to get social work experience in a hospital setting because of the opportunity to work with different populations,” Leona says. “Here you get a feel for all walks of life. My mom is a social worker, and it was a role I knew I would be able to make a difference and help people.”
Leona graduated with her master’s degree in 2021 and had her first baby before joining our ministry in October 2022. She had worked in case management before, but her role at St. Francis is her first as a social worker.
Prioritizing Professional Growth
Leona recognizes the opportunities for growth within our health system.
“The hospital has a lot of opportunity for a lot of different fields,” she says. “We have a really good work environment here, especially across departments.”
Leona is studying for her licensure test and needs to stay current with the state to continue practicing. Our health system makes that easy with free online and on-campus continuing education classes and our education assistance program.
“It makes me feel prioritized because this is the first job where I’ve been able to get the majority of my classes for free, and they can be kind of pricey,” Leona says.
The Strength of a Team
The regular team-building exercises that characterize the case management team meetings are one of Leona’s favorite parts of her job. Her team and its leaders are the main reason she feels satisfied in her current role.
“My team in case management does a really good job of making sure that we feel appreciated, that we’re not getting burnt out,” she says. “They really try to find solutions and make sure things are going smoothly. They really make us a priority.”
Collaboration among her team is a priority, and they’re always checking in on each other and working together to meet patients’ needs.
“We speak every day and work in small teams,” Leona says. “You really feel like everyone has your back, and when you don’t have an answer to something they’re always willing to help and dig for answers.”
Her leaders have an open-door policy and Leona knows she’s always able to speak up and offer suggestions. “I always feel heard,” she says.
During her first year as a social worker, Leona’s priorities changed as her son came to need speech and occupational therapy — services that required appointments away from daycare and work.
“I had to come in late or leave early, and my department is being very accommodating with that,” Leona says. “Even the process of getting all that started, a lot of doctors’ appointments and meetings with the specialists, they’ve let me take the time to figure out what was going on with him.”
Working for St. Francis makes it easier for Leona to live a balanced life as a working parent.
“Juggling life and work is really hard, but St. Francis is very accommodating with that,” Leona says. “It was a big load taken off my shoulders to know they were going to be.”
Leona joined St. Francis during the 110th anniversary, which included a blessing of the hands. Having her work prayed over was very meaningful to her, and daily prayer also helps ground her.
“What’s important to me is my faith, my family and my career,” she says.
Social Worker as Problem Solver
Working in healthcare was an intentional choice for Leona, and being able to provide for people who need services keeps her going.
“I get all walks of life with my patients, and that’s probably the most exciting part of my job,” Leona says. “You don’t see two of the same patients every day.”
Leona loves her interactions with families and helping them solve problems, especially for issues they may have been dealing with for a while.
“As a social worker, we get all the problems, all the complaints,” Leona says. “So, we end up listening a lot. They may just need to talk it through and have somebody be an ear for them.”
Her genuine concern for patients’ well-being extends beyond mere problem-solving to providing emotional support.
“A lot of times the stressors that they have at home are affecting their health, so just sitting with them and giving them the opportunity to talk it through really benefits the patients and their families,” she says.
Being present is sometimes enough, but finding solutions and making connections is central to what Leona does.
“When we finally get it figured out and get placement or therapy, we just help them get some answers, even if it’s not something we can do here we can steer them in the right direction, that’s probably the best part for me,” she says.
Still in its early stages, Leona’s journey with St. Francis Health speaks volumes to our health system’s commitment to fostering an inclusive, supportive and growth-oriented work environment. As Leona continues her career with us, balancing the intricacies of work and home, she stands as inspiration for those seeking a fulfilling career in healthcare.