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Industry Insight

Touro Receives ‘Social Work School of the Year’

Touro College Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) was honored as “Social Work School of the Year” by the NASW-New York City Chapter at the organization’s 13th annual Leadership Awards Gala.

Touro is the first social work school to receive the award, created to acknowledge institutions that educate their members and serve as a foundation of the profession. The inaugural award went to Touro for its leadership and contributions in building the profession. Specifically, it acknowledges the school’s commitment to social justice through teaching, advocacy, and clinical excellence.

More than 200 guests attended the virtual event—“20 to 20 and Beyond”—celebrating social workers’ achievements, commitment to social justice and the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women’s constitutional right to vote.

NASW-New York City Executive Director Claire Green-Forde, DSW, LCSW, highlighted the “amazing work and dedication” of Founding Dean Steven Huberman, PhD; faculty; staff; and students.

“Touro has made a strong name for itself in New York City, and the Dean’s leadership and dedication to justice go well beyond the institution. He and Touro have elevated our profession through educating students in innovative ways and working to face issues head on so that we remain strong,” she said.

Said Huberman in accepting the award, “We will never sleep and never stop until we have justice for everyone. We say, ‘Congratulations to NASW and we look forward to serving the community for many years.’”

The school opened in 2006 on West 23rd Street with 60 students. Under the Dean’s leadership, it has grown to 325 students enrolled in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and alumni numbering more than 1,000. The GSSW prides itself on attracting a diverse student body, which this year is 50% Latino and African American, 30% Jewish, and 20% other diverse students.

Over the past four years, the school has been awarded $7 million from the federal government and the private sector to train students, faculty, and staff in fighting the opioid crisis, and to provide scholarships for disadvantaged MSW students. The aid goes mainly to students who are drawn to working with underserved populations, to provide them with skills to effect change.

“We are all thrilled by this honor,” said Touro College and University System President Alan Kadish, MD. “Our mission is to provide quality education that is accessible and affordable to all. We want to give voice to the needs of those who cannot speak for themselves.”

The school has achieved excellence in three specializations: mental illness, military veterans, and aging. All students do fieldwork, at over 100 clinical primary care sites across New York and New Jersey. Their rotations serve the elderly, the homeless, and victims of domestic violence. As a group, students travel to Albany and Washington, DC, to advocate for social workers, and help NYC count the homeless every winter.

The GSSW has a long history with the NASW. Students serve as liaisons to the NYC Chapter, and receive free memberships when they graduate, subsidized by Touro, also a lead sponsor of the Gala. The school’s director of alumni engagement, continuing education and development, Eric Levine, DSW, LMSW, serves as an officer of the organization and is a member of NASW national’s Delegate Assembly.

At the close of the evening, attendees were moved by Huberman's challenge to not focus on despair during the pandemic. He called on them to learn from and be inspired by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Congressman John Lewis.

"Help others. Get out at least twice a week. Go to a park. Enjoy nature," he advised, adding he visits a seven-foot bronze statue of Dr. King in his neighborhood, done on the Hackensack River Parkway. "I look at the beautiful quotations about social justice that adorn the statue for inspiration."

— Source: The Touro College and University System


Nebraska Health Information Exchange Expands SDOH Platform

Unite Us, a technology company building coordinated care networks nationwide, announced that it is expanding its partnership with the Nebraska Health Information Initiative (NEHII), a health information exchange, to six additional states including Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, and Minnesota. This growing partnership aims to break down existing obstacles between clinical and social service providers to allow for comprehensive, whole-person care with trackable outcomes and data.

Beyond the clinical care a person receives, 80% of an individual's health and quality of life is affected by their social determinants of health (SDOH), conditions in the environment where people are born, live, work, play, and worship. It is critical that health care providers have access to this full picture of their patients' lives beyond the clinic and hospital walls in order to identify and help eliminate potential barriers to their health and well-being.

NEHII is committed to helping organizations addressing SDOH improve their workflows, track results and metrics, avoid wasteful and repeated care, and create sustainable long-term models for care. NEHII will utilize Unite Us’ person-centric platform to provide transparency, accountability, and outcomes data to providers, and to incorporate community-based social care into state ecosystems, particularly in rural areas with geographic variations in access to critical services. This expansion and continued partnership paves the way for additional collaborations with other health information exchanges, multiple health systems, and state Medicaid departments as they collectively move towards systems change.

"NEHII is thrilled to be expanding our partnership with Unite Us into six new states to enable better support and health outcomes for all Americans," says Jaime Bland, president and CEO of NEHII. "We know patients don't seek care in a single institution, let alone a single state, especially along our borders. Statewide infrastructures for health and social care are more crucial than ever as COVID-19 continues to devastate the nation. We're eager to help additional states combine their clinical and social care data in one secure location to provide patients and providers a more comprehensive view of their longitudinal health record."

"Our ultimate goal is to help all Americans lead healthier lives, and this extended partnership with NEHII enables providers to better address whole-person needs, including nonmedical issues and social determinants of health," says Taylor Justice, president of Unite Us. "We continue to lead on bringing social care to the same level of priority as traditional health care, at a time when it has never been more important to build this infrastructure. While much of the national response to COVID-19 so far has been in the clinical realm, our social support systems are seeing an unprecedented strain due to high demand."

— Source: Unite Us