Social Workers Help Put the Pieces Together

Posted on 04/02/12 09:35:am


Nearly 100 social workers on the staff at Rogers are making a difference in the lives of the patients and families who choose treatment at Rogers for eating disorders, substance-use disorders, anxiety and other mood disorders.

With social workers working with patients in every program, you don’t have to look too far to find someone whose primary goal is to serve as an advocate for patients – especially for patients who are unable to advocate for themselves. The social workers at Rogers are constantly in touch with others on the treatment team, patients’ families, and outpatient providers to make sure everybody is on the same page, providing the best support possible.

“We find the right services at the right time to provide the right support for each person,” said Jonna Pestka, LCSW, manager of the social services department at Rogers Memorial Hospital. She said it’s important for patients to have their basic needs taken care of so they can better focus on their long-term recovery goals. “It’s hard to focus on treatment for anxiety or depression if you’re worried about having to return to a situation at home, work or school that is affecting your mental health.”

Social workers at Rogers lead group therapy, family therapy and individual therapy. “For many, group therapy can be the first time they’ve ever really talked about their feelings. Through the variety of therapies we provide, they learn new methods to help them deal with life, so they can make those important coping connections in their future,” Jonna said.

As patient advocates and primary therapists, the social workers at Rogers help patients and their families review the different options available to them. “We help bring together the pieces. Families who have been broken are willing to re-engage because they now have hope,” Jonna said.

One of the most important things that social workers do is to make sure patients have a plan for continued care when they leave Rogers. They work with the patient’s outpatient provider to ensure a smooth transition. If the patient is not already working with a mental health professional, social services staff will help select a provider whose expertise and treatment style are a good fit for the patient.

Social workers may also help patients set up future training through a vocational program, or work with a current employer or school. No matter what challenges are facing a patient, social workers help to uncover options that build a support system, providing the best environment to sustain recovery.

At Rogers, one of the best parts of a social worker’s job is being able to see the progress a patient has made from when they first arrived at Rogers to when they are ready leave. Jonna said, “We work with children who have been out of school for weeks, maybe months and are ready to go back. Their families are so thankful to the treatment team – they say, ‘you made my child whole again.’ People who were on the brink of suicide when they arrived tell us ‘Rogers saved my life.’”


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