TAMC’s Williamson named Medical Social Worker of the Year

12 years ago

TAMC’s Williamson

named Medical Social Worker of the Year

    PRESQUE ISLE — For 32 years, the hundreds of people Laverna Williamson has touched with her gentle care and compassion as a licensed social worker, along with her many co-workers at The Aroostook Medical Center, have known she is one special lady. Now, her colleagues and counterparts across the state have recognized this true County gem with a statewide award.

Photo courtesy of The Aroostook Medical Center

    LAVERNA WILLIAMSON, center, is congratulated by her TAMC co-worker Ralph McPherson and Deanna Mullins, president of the Maine Chapter for the Society for Social Work Leadership in Healthcare, after being presented with the Maine 2012 Medical Social Worker of the Year Award recently in Rockport.  BU-TAMC WILLIAMSON AWARD-CLR-DCX-SH-39

    At the Maine Hospital Association’s summer forum in Rockport recently, Williamson was named Maine’s Medical Social Worker of the Year by the Maine Chapter of the Society of Social Work Leadership in Healthcare (SSWLHC). The honor is given annually for outstanding performance as a medical social worker who serves as an exemplary model to others in the field.

    “I was so excited and very pleased to receive the award. I’ve worked hard for a long time, so it was a good climax to a wonderful career. TAMC does great things and has great workers. I am just happy to be part of that,” said Williamson. “I have shown all my friends and family the two plaques I got at the awards ceremony. I want to thank all the people who helped get me the award.”

    Williamson was hired as a social worker at the Aroostook Health Center (AHC) — TAMC’s long-term care and skilled nursing facility in Mars Hill — in January of 1980. In 2000, she transitioned to TAMC’s A.R. Gould Memorial Hospital to become the facility’s first case manager. Today, she remains a casual part-time employee at the hospital.

    “For over 32 years she has provided service to the people of Aroostook County. The only role in the field of social work that Laverna has not filled successfully is that of a retired social worker, despite the fact that she tried in 2006,” said Laura Turner, manager of social services at TAMC. “Those of us who work with Laverna respect her knowledge, dedication, and her absolute tireless advocacy on behalf of her patients and residents.

    “We have seen her obtain resources for patients, which we thought not even possible. We have seen patients and their families still grateful for a deed done by Laverna many years ago on their behalf,” Turner said. “Laverna has mentored many young social workers serving as the best possible example of what it means to be a social worker. She believes strongly in the ideals of the social work profession and her actions demonstrate this conviction.”

    Before becoming a social worker, Williamson earned a degree in criminal justice, but became somewhat disillusioned as she sought work in the field because as a woman she was only offered “desk jobs.” So she later completed a degree in psychology and obtained her social work license.

    During her two-decade tenure at AHC, Williamson was known for going above and beyond the call of duty. She took it upon herself to organize memorial services when residents passed away and logged in many extra hours to ensure the needs of her residents and their families were met.

    “There was no job that she didn’t see as hers,” said Turner. “She insisted that residents be treated with dignity and she served as their advocate without reservation. Laverna was beloved by the staff, the residents, and their families during her time at the Aroostook Health Center.”

    It was during her time at AHC that Williamson developed a special interest in the care of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. She began the first Alzheimer’s support group in Aroostook County and lobbied the Maine Legislature to appropriate additional funds for care of this population.

    “Her dedication to this cause resulted in better care for those Aroostook County residents who have Alzheimer’s disease and those who love them,” said Turner.

    At TAMC’s A.R. Gould Memorial Hospital, Williamson is credited with being a driving force behind implementing and growing a new comprehensive case management program for patients with certain chronic diseases.

    “This program grew by leaps and bounds due to her efforts and her innovation. Laverna saw the possibilities for this program to aid the chronically ill and allow them to succeed and indeed flourish despite their illnesses,” said Turner. “It remains the model still used by the case managers at TAMC today where Laverna continues to see acute patients as a social worker and case manager.”

    Among the colleagues joining in congratulating Williamson at the recent ceremony in Rockport were TAMC President and Chief Executive Officer Sylvia Getman and Ralph McPherson, licensed clinical social worker for neuro rehab and oncology at TAMC. McPherson and Turner co-nominated Williamson for the award. McPherson was also the honoree’s former supervisor.