VHAN Spotlight: Meet Mary Brooks
When Mary Brooks, LMSW, was in college, she knew she wanted a career that would allow her to help people. She considered studying nursing but wasn’t sure about entering the sciences. When a friend suggested social work, Mary signed up for a class. “From that moment on, I knew that was it,” she recalls.
Mary began her career working with children and families, but when she had the opportunity to transition to medical social work, she jumped at the chance. Her first role in the medical field was working as a population health social worker at a kidney care company, where she learned the ins and outs of case management and care transitions. In 2020, she joined VHAN’s Social Work team to serve patients in the West Tennessee region.
Mary loves connecting with patients and having the ability to review their medical history and catch minor problems before they lead to more significant issues.
“In this role, we perform a chart review, so we dig in and find opportunities to make changes before a major health event happens,” she says. “That could be a medication change or getting access to medical equipment. It’s like we can put out a fire before it engulfs a patient’s life.”
Once Mary started working directly with patients, the ability to help people truly stuck with her. While she has worked on dozens of memorable cases, a recent experience with one particular patient stuck with her. The patient was discharged from the hospital with an open wound and a significant recovery ahead. Unfortunately, when she arrived home, she found that her air conditioning was no longer working in the middle of a heat wave in West Tennessee. She called Mary and explained the situation, and Mary immediately got to work.
“I knew it wasn’t good for her to stay in her home without air conditioning. She lived alone and had serious medical conditions on top of that open wound,” Mary says. “I started calling different churches in her town, and I found one that was willing to send a member out to fix it for free.”
That experience built trust between Mary and her patient, and from that point on, the patient was willing to take Mary’s advice and listen to her suggestions.
“She was so thankful. Me coming through for her in that moment solidified that relationship,” Mary recalls. “When it came time for her to leave the program, she didn’t want to leave me.”
Mary is an avid reader in her free time and enjoys participating in book clubs with fellow book lovers. During COVID, she participated in a remote book club with friends in Nashville and even had some notable authors come to speak at book club meetings.
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