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News Items – October 15, 2015

ThinkstockPhotos-490069267How Rikers Drove My Innocent Patient to Plead Guilty

Nothing I learned as a master’s student in social work could have prepared me for what I saw in my five years at New York’s 10-jail, 14,000-inmate Rikers Island, where I started out as an intern in the Mental Health Department and quit as an assistant chief of mental health in the 500-cell solitary confinement unit. I worked at Rikers, a jail now notorious for inmate neglect and abuse, thanks to a storm of scathing media reports and lawsuits, at the height of the Giuliani administration’s celebrated crackdown on crime—when the inmate population ballooned to a record 24,000 inmates.

Susanne Riemer is a member:
Horse therapy offers insight into mental health
Monadnock Ledger-Transcript (NY)
There’s more than one way to corral a horse. But what does the method we use tell us about ourselves? Susanne Riemer of New Ipswich is a clinical social worker. Most of her career has been spent in an office, seeing one client after another. “I noticed, talking about things isn’t always as effective as involving the body,” said Riemer, in an interview at her farm on Saturday. “Things like play therapy with children.”

Barbara Lee’s Bill Expands the Role of Social Workers in Medicare
Social Work Helper
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), chair of the Congressional Social Work Caucus, introduced a bill last week addressing several critical issues confronting clinical social workers providing mental health services to Medicare recipients. The Improve Medicare Beneficiaries’ Access to Mental Health Services Act of 2015, if it becomes law, would add clinical social workers to qualified service providers for Medicare recipients in skilled nursing facilities. It would increase the Medicare reimbursement rate for clinical social workers from its current rate of 75 percent to 85 percent. And, it would also allow clinical social workers to be reimbursed for Health and Behavior Assessment and Intervention (HBAI) services that may not be directly related to mental health treatment. Senator Debbie Stabenow, one of two social workers serving in the Senate, introduced a companion bill.

Kristin Hatch and Gail Steketee are members:
Provincetown officials are helping hoarders learn to let go
Wicked Local Wellfleet (MA)
Kristin Hatch, who serves on both the Provincetown Housing Authority and the Community Housing Council, also has hoarding on her radar screen. “Hoarding does affect people in Provincetown in a couple of different ways,” said Hatch. “It can create a physically and mentally unhealthy environment for them. In addition, if a person’s place needs to be cleaned out after a long tenancy, it can be costly. I do not have data on how prevalent the problem is in Provincetown, but clinical hoarding behavior data put the rate at 5 percent in the U.S.” Hatch attended an all-day training session in Boston last Friday that included one of the nation’s top experts on the subject, Gail Steketee, co-author of “Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding (Treatments that Work).” Hatch is pursuing a master’s degree in social work that includes training regarding hoarding.

‘Jeopardy’ host gives $1M scholarship to NY student
Jeopardy host Alex Trebek, 75, is funding a $1 million scholarship for undergraduates at New York’s Fordham University. On Wednesday, he handed out the first one to Estefania Cruz. “Mr. Trebek and I share a lot of the same values and the same mission. So, I’m very glad that I was chosen. It’s an honor for me,” Cruz said. Trebek’s scholarship provides financial aid support to current, full-time and/or part-time students who live in north Harlem. Cruz says she’ll pursue a degree in clinical social work after she graduates in 2017. Trebek says he hopes that the scholarship helps many other deserving students to have a ‘transformational experience.’




Kyle L. Northam

Kyle L. Northam
Senior Division Coordinator, Membership, Marketing & Communications
National Association of Social Workers

750 First Street, NE

Suite 800

Washington, DC 20002-4241



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