Social work educators don’t just bring a wealth of knowledge and skills to higher education. They use their resourcefulness and determination to empower individuals, families, and communities outside of their classrooms.
Assessing the behavioral health and social service needs during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tulane University School of Social Work faculty and staff are diligently working alongside front-line medical professionals and public health practitioners to provide support and connect individuals and communities with resources to help them navigate these circumstances.
Here’s a small sampling of what the School of Social Work faculty and staff are currently doing within our communities.
Patrick Bordnick, PhD, MPH, LCSW has been assisting with the coordination of two outreach initiatives. To address food insecurity, he’s supported Community Table To-Go from Bethlehem Lutheran Church by supplying food for, helping to cook, and packaging meals on Sundays. He’s working alongside church members, chefs, and Tulane students to provide between 150 and 175 meals. To address a shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical professionals, he’s leveraged his social work skills of connecting people to create an organic, collaborative effort to gather and deliver needed supplies to local hospitals. This effort includes members of I.A.T.S.E. Local 478, which is the New Orleans chapter of the labor union that represents over 140,000 technicians, artisans and craftspersons in the entertainment industry. Their PPE collection is made up of donations from CSI New Orleans and other locally filmed shows as well as sewn cloth masks made by ricRACK, Sew Fabulous, and other costume designers.
Maurya Glaude, PhD, LCSW-BACS, has been providing telehealth for about five years in a small capacity. Stress levels have increased for families, and clients may need more services during these challenging times. Given the circumstances and increase in requests, she has accepted additional telehealth appointments. Dr. Glaude is also sharing her expertise with the public and empowering families using media. Contributing to news articles and blogs has created a platform for her to provide psychoeducation in a non-traditional way to diverse individuals, especially those in rural and underserved communities. She appreciates that families can adopt what they want and discard what may not be culturally relevant. In support of her colleagues and herself, she has attended Zoom meetings for working mothers and clinicians and participated in prayer groups for clinicians of color.
Nubian OmiSayade Sun, PhD, LCSW is working with national organizations on behalf of individuals in jails, prisons, and detention centers. As the COVID-19 virus spreads quickly, those without the ability to practice social distancing or good hand hygiene are particularly susceptible. Dr. Sun is among the many working to request that the justice system reduce their populations in the name of public health and safety. She is also working to develop a sustainable mutual aid model, contributing to a giving circle, and assisting people applying for benefits. All of this is part of her ongoing work as an advocate for vulnerable and marginalized populations.
Melinda Flynn, LCSW-BACS has started COVID-19 coping groups for the general public through her private practice, which provides individual therapy, social work supervision, and immigration consultation. These groups are accessible worldwide as they are conducted online. The groups deliver support, skills, anxiety management tools, and validation that individuals are not alone in their experiences.
Katherine C. Godshall, DSW, LCSW-BACS, is the owner of the Behavioral Health Learning Collaborative, which offers accessible and quality continuing education seminars for mental health practitioners along with organizational and clinical consultation. She has moved all her CEUs sessions online and is offering free/donation consultation support groups each week. Dr. Godshall is also a volunteer with the New Orleans Medical Reserve Corps (NOMRC). Dr. Godshall is providing free/donation-based consultation support groups for mental health professionals throughout the state. In addition to Consultation Groups and CEUs, she has started to accept new client referrals and offering low cost, sliding-scale for frontline workers.
Kate Lufkin, DSW, LCSW-BACS is seeing her counseling practice busier than ever. She is a clinical counselor and researcher for the Functional Restoration Program at Ochsner Baptist, and they are providing a 24-hour on-call crisis line for Ochsner Health System employees. She’s seeing an increase in client referrals from individuals who are trying to manage anxiety and depression. Dr. Lufkin is also a volunteer with the New Orleans Medical Reserve Corps (NOMRC) and with the State of Louisiana.
Catherine Patteson Poehling, LCSW is a founding member of the Reproductive Justice Action Collective (ReJAC), a New Orleans network that aims to share information, resources, ideas, and human power to create and implement projects in our community that operate within the reproductive justice framework. They have adjusted their operations to continue to distribute emergency contraception and educational zines through no contact drop-offs and are currently partnering with essential service organizations to fill in as outposts while current outposts are closed. Ms. Poehling is also part of a local online mutual aid group and is completing her training as a Medical Reserve Corps Behavioral Health volunteer.