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Profile of the Month

Ivette Berrio
Licensed Master of Social Work
HHC Coler Rehabilitation and Nursing Care Center

Helping Patients Go Back to the Community
One of my main duties it to discharge patients to a safe and appropriate place to live, and make sure they have the necessary extra support. Many of them have multiple chronic medical conditions that impact life functioning and need help with everyday living. That means we have to find affordable housing that's wheelchair accessible, connect them to home care services, or make sure their families have the right equipment to care for them at home. We work hard to help them recover and get to a point that they don't need to be in a nursing care institution any longer. Our goal is to help them get ready to live more independently and to achieve their goal to go back into the community.

A Teacher, a Counselor, a Real Estate Broker
I play a lot of different roles -- like most social workers do. I help educate patients and residents before they can move back out on their own. Can they cook for themselves? Manage a budget? Understand their medication? I provide counseling for families. And I work with many different agencies -- from NYCHA, HPD and HUD to community-based housing organizations -- to find apartments. But, mainly, we are advocates for the people who have a small voice in this society. We help them to have a voice and become independent.

A Typical Work Day
No one day is exactly like the next. I visit with the residents and try to get to know them and understand their unique circumstances. I consult with nursing staff about any issues that have come up, like a patient who is refusing to eat or someone who is ready for discharge and has no family or home. I fill out housing applications, negotiate with the Social Security Administration, I call families and make sure that patient records are up to date and we talk about advance directives.

A Lifelong Dedication to the Elderly and Disabled
I graduated from Hunter College School of Social Work and have a Master's degree with a focus on Aging Health and Policy. I got a special scholarship to work with the elderly. I had to do an essay about myself and I wrote about how all my life, since I was 16 years old, I was working in nursing homes. I worked in the kitchen, in recreation, and in a community program helping the elderly to get home care. God gives us all our gifts and our skills and he placed me to work with the elderly. It just happened that way. I had a big family of great aunts and uncles, and I loved listening to their stories and helping them.

Most Memorable Patient Experience
I always remember this gentleman who didn't qualify for Social Security, had no income, and no home. If we had had to discharge him, I don't know where he could have gone. He had suffered a bad fall and a brain injury, but he had recovered significantly and was ready to go back into the community. After some doing, I was able to help him apply for housing and get him the rent assistance he was eligible for. Six months after he left, he told me he had a job as a housekeeper at a nursing home. He was so happy to have his own little house and get out of the nursing home. He could have ended up in a shelter, so I felt very proud, and he was such a nice man.

Love for Travel
Growing up, my mother took us so many places in the summer. We went to California and North Dakota and Panama, where my family is from. I went to Europe and France and Holland and Germany. My mother raised us traveling, and she was a single mother.

Grandmother, Gardening and More Travel
I like spending time with my six-year-old granddaughter. As a parent I had to be a disciplinarian, especially when they were teenagers. But with my granddaughter, it is different, and now I just spoil her. I recently bought a home. I used to live in an apartment and I love fixing the house, doing home improvements and gardening. And I do a lot of short car trips to places like the Poconos and Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.


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HHC 2014 Stats

  • Staffed Beds: 6,684
  • Clinic Visits: 4,472,960
  • ER Visits: 1,179,436
  • Discharges: 205,791
  • Births: 18,564
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