CHI Saint Joseph Health Partners social worker Elizabeth Atkins has always had a servant leader spirit. From volunteering throughout high school and college to the profession she’s dedicated to today, her heart and passion is with those who need help.
“I always found I am drawn to people in need,” Elizabeth said. “If I was a camp counselor, I focused on the kids who didn’t have a lot of friends. I volunteered at a nursing home in high school. We had to do 10 community service hours, but I kept going for weeks to visit.”
Elizabeth said she thought about teaching or child development but decided on social work as her career because of her compassion for those in need.
“There’s no other job I would choose,” Elizabeth added. “It’s very easy to hand someone a paper and tell them to call a resource, but it takes on a whole new level when I can get to know a patient. I do a lot of home visits, so I am able see exactly what they need and where they’re struggling.”
With CHI Saint Joseph Health Partners, also known as the CIN (clinically integrated network), Elizabeth receives referrals from multiple sources, including the coverage of all employees who carry the Anthem insurance, primary care offices, and the hospitals. But Elizabeth goes beyond basic.
“I once found a patient who was living in his car,” Elizabeth said. “He had limited resources. We were able to assess and prioritize his needs then link him to necessary resources. A year later, he’s in an apartment, independent, and doing well. Those are extreme situations that don’t happen on a day-to-day basis.”
Elizabeth’s recent work was helping patients cover medication costs because of gaps in Medicare coverage.
“I have patients that have to choose between buying groceries, getting their medicine and paying the electric bill,” Elizabeth said. “And a lot of them will go without their medicine. Things like that are my everyday job.
“It makes me feel good to see a patient succeed or to see them more independent.”
Outside her of work, Elizabeth enjoys spending time with her family, two nieces and nephew. She enjoys sharpening up on her baking and cooking skills and enjoys baking birthday cakes for her nieces and nephew to enjoy each year.