NAVAL MEDICAL CENTER CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina –
March is Social Work Month, and the National Association of Social Workers has designated this year’s theme as “The Time Is Right for Social Work.” During the month of March, social workers are being recognized as major influencers for social change throughout our country’s history.
“For me and how I see social work, we work and fight for the average person,” said Tonya Stanley, Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune’s command social worker. “When we talk about social and equality issues or needing mental health services, we [social workers] are someone to help guide a person through the process of getting what they need. We help them and their families find available resources.”
Stanley was hired to the role of command social worker in January 2021 and brings 24 years of social work experience to the job. Stanley works closely with multiple departments within the Medical Center including the Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit, and mental health areas.
U.S. Navy Commander Carol Ellsworth, Director for Medical Services says Stanley is an integral part of the team here at NMCCL. “She is the vital link between the healthcare team, the patient and family, and the healthcare system. She maintains a holistic approach, and is truly a patient advocate; tirelessly working to ensure the patient remains the center of our focus.”
Stanley works with patients and family members to identify needs such as food, clothing or shelter, and then procuring resources. Stanley’s role as a social worker also means intervention when mandatory as in cases of suspected abuse or neglect.
“I think we [NMCCL] have a special and unique situation because we are a military facility seeing civilian patients,” states Stanley. “The reality is, a lot of the staff are not familiar with resources available in the civilian community because there are so many on base that we use often. They may not have come in contact or had experience working with agencies out in town. This is where I come in.”
Stanley utilizes both military resources and civilian resources within the community. One of her biggest goals as the command social worker is to ensure NMCCL staff are educated and trained on what resources are available in the civilian community. Stanley works closely with Onslow County Department of Social Services and other organizations to seek out partnerships and resource sharing for the medical center.
“I love that every day I come in here is a different day,” adds Stanley. “I also love when I am able to help someone, and is one of the reasons why I am a social worker. When I am able to help solve an issue, people are very appreciative and it’s rewarding.”
In addition, Stanley is also the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program Manager at NMCCL. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month; Stanley and her SAPR team will be hosting a variety of command events aimed at raising awareness about sexual assault and promoting safety.