The Work We Do: Our Social Workers

May 1, 2018

March is National Social Work Month. 1199SEIU represents more than 2,000 social workers who are employed in a variety of settings. These professionals are much more than discharge planners and therapeutic ears. Social work professionals provide care in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and legal services organizations. 1199 Magazine caught up with some of these professionals at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, where social workers play a key role in helping the community access an array of health and wellness services.


Laura Liebman, a Senior Social Worker in the Information and Referral Service at Montefiore Medical Center for 27 years, helps Montefiore patients access community resources like housing and food stamps. “Each program has a different renewal date, and it is very easy for people to find themselves disqualified because they received something in the mail and they didn’t understand it,” says Liebman who has been an 1199 delegate for 15 years.


Denise Velazquez is a Senior Social Worker at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Pediatric Oncology and Hematology Division with 22 years of service. “I am part of the medical team,” explains Velazquez, “but I’m given the opportunity to get to know the patients and their families on a deeper level than the doctors do. I help them to find more peace.”


“Working in the ER you see all the problems of the world,” says Carol Grosvenor, an Emergency Room Social Worker at Monte’s Wakefield Campus for 28 years. “Everything you see on television, we see it all here: domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, sexual assault and street crimes,” she says. “As a social work team, we work together. When we had a recent case where a young mother was crushed in an accident involving an ambulance for disabled people, I asked Tom Wilhelm to help because he used to be a priest. He came down and we all prayed together.”


Geraldine Solomon is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in General Medicine, with 40 years at Monte. Solomon’s route to social work began at a very early age. “From the time I was six years old, people always came to me for advice, and I enjoyed working with people,” she recalls. One of her biggest frustrations, says Solomon, is dealing with insurance companies who either deny coverage for services or impose unnecessary delays. “It is hard to watch someone being denied something that they really need,” she says.


Donna Crowe, has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Montefiore for 27 years. She works in the hospital’s HIV/AIDS Center and was first attracted to social work as a high school student in Jamaica. What keeps her going, says Crowe, is being able to help people navigate the system so that they can afford the expensive drugs they need to manage their HIV.


Thomas Wilhelm served as a Catholic Priest in Chile for 11 years before becoming a Licensed Master Social Worker on Montefiore’s Wakefield Hemodialysis Unit. “The Spanish I learned there definitely comes in handy now,” he says, adding: “We like to refer to people who visit our unit as ‘members’. Many of them have full-time jobs, even though they may be coming in for dialysis three times a week.”

- 1199 Magazine | April / May 2018