NASW, MISSISSIPPI CHAPTER

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HELP NEEDED IN LOUISIANA FLOODING


Carmen Weisner, the Executive Director for NASW LA Chapter, has this report:

Much like the images of Katrina, folks were rescued from their homes by boat, helicopter, and anyone who to took risks to get them to safety.  We have an estimated 40,000 homes severely damaged or destroyed.  We are a state of very close communities.  There are over 130,000 individuals that are displaced by about 4,000 in shelters.  The rest have found some form of shelter with friends and family.  Water is still rising in some of our lower parishes (counties to the rest of the country) and so the numbers will grow.  The American Red Cross describes the expanse of the disaster to that of Hurricane Sandy.  To date we have 14 people who have lost their lives (one of them being my former neighbor and founder of the home health multistate organization Amedysis).  He and his family were givers in the community.  He always stepped up to lead drives in the corporate community in times like these.

On Sunday, ATT lost its ability to transmit information. Their main switching station when under water and they had to bring in emergency towers to restore very limited phone lines.  Those needing rescue had been using their cell phones to ping their locations so once the lines went down, that resource went away.  Our land line in the Chapter office has very spotty ability.  We could get our voice messages but we could not call out.   Cell service returned.  Internet access was troublesome on Sunday but that has stabilized.

Many social workers have been impacted by this flooding I am not sure how many of NASW members are impacted by this event which cover 20 parishes (stretches from the Mississippi border to the Texas border).  When we GIS map our licensed capacity, this is the area where the majority of the social work capacity is located.   We have actively been posting on our Facebook page.  We understand that this will be a LONG recovery process.  We have been there before and understand some of the difficulties our citizens will be faced with in the months and years to come.  Interestingly enough, New Orleans was NOT impacted by this event.

BATON ROUGE AREA FOUNDATION: BRAF has a relief fund that assists nonprofits responding to flooding across the state. People can make donations online at braf.org. Donations to the Louisiana Flood Relief Fund are tax deductible.

 

CAPITAL AREA UNITED WAY: Capital Area United Way is accepting donations to help with long-term recovery. Text LAFLOOD to 313131 or http://www.cauw.org/donate.


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                                            NASW, MS Chapter Responds To Recent Violence 

The Mississippi Chapter of National Association of Social Workers is appalled by the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and again urges reforms that would help end racial profiling and excessive use of police force and improve relations between police and the communities they serve.

It is also important that we express how deeply Mississippi Chapter members are upset about the tragic shooting deaths of five Dallas police — Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Lorne Ahrens and Michael Smith — and the wounding of seven other police. Those deaths are made more tragic by the fact that the Dallas police and the protestors had formed a collaboration to ensure that the march was peaceful. 

 Mississippi NASW decries the use of violence against those who are exercising their constitutional rights to assemble and protest peacefully and against law enforcement present, who were there to protect the participants during the event.This senseless tragedy yet again highlights the need for meaningful action to work towards improving relationships between law enforcement and all citizens as well as passing legislation on gun control.

The questions that remain are;1) when will our elected representatives, pass meaningful gun control legislation; 2) when will law enforcement take positive action on improving relationships with people of color; and 3) how many more people will die as a result of these issues not being addressed.


The Members of the Mississippi Chapter of NASW offers their deepest condolences to the families of the victims who were killed by snipers at the Rally in Dallas, Texas.  The members of the Chapter also extends their wishes for a speedy recovery to those who were injured in this horrible attack.


NASW, MS Report On the MS Health Summit

On Friday July 22,2016, I had the pleasure to attend the Mississippi Health Summit on the campus of The University of Southern Miss, Hattiesburg, as the representative for the NASW MS chapter. I am happy to report that these are exciting times for the citizens of Mississippi with regards to healthcare.

The keynote speaker at this event was Dr. Mary Currier, State Health Officer for the MS Department of Health. Dr Currier spoke frankly about the state of health of the citizens of MS, and the extreme disparity that has become a reality in our state between those who are able to receive healthcare when needed and the populations that are not able to access insurance or healthcare resources. Dr Currier is passionate and sure of the course of action that is needed to ensure that all Mississippians are able to access resources to support great health for themselves and their families. One of the many concerns that she has for the state is the health of its children. She understands that childhood obesity, infant and fetal mortality and child abuse resulting from parental drug use, are some of the barriers to creating a culture of health that can resonate for generations of children.

I was particularly excited about the outlook for our profession in this plan for Mississippi’s healthcare. Since 2013, Dr Tim Rehner of the University of So. Mississippi’s School of Social Work and Michelle Brazeal, LCSW have partnered with Coastal Family Health Center (CFHC) of the Gulf Coast to pilot a program of Integrated Healthcare for the patient’s at CFHC’s Gulfport facility. This initiative seeks to improve the well-being of the patients by developing a collaborative, team based approach to healthcare that connects social workers, dieticians, therapeutic recreation specialist and medical providers.  This clinic serves the low income and indigent populations of the gulf coast area by providing an array of low cost health services. The Gulfport clinic employs physicians and nurse practitioners to treat pediatric and adult patient’s populations and has a comprehensive OB/GYN program to serve the needs of expectant mothers and women’s health. CFHC assist patients with medications, teaches diabetes management classes and even has a limited dental practice on site. Dr Rehner and LCSW Brazeal have begun a pilot program that is able to now address the mental health of the patient’s at CFHC by having combined LCSW’s into the clinics daily practice. The primary focus of the pilot program is to create a “one stop shopping” example for primary care providers throughout the state that reflects how mental health services can benefit not only their patient, but their overall medical practice. Enhancing integrated methods of healthcare is a win/win for patient’s doctors and social workers.

I must reiterate how encouraging it was to see so many professions coming together to address the health of Mississippians. After hearing the speakers at this event, I took away a feeling of hope and understanding that there are many professions that recognize the need for a healthier state. It is my hope for all of Mississippi, that we continue to seek new and modern approaches to closing the gap between those who can afford to be healthy and those who cannot, and that we continue to link people to systems, evaluate the effectiveness of current programs, assure competent care and continue to research new insights for innovative solutions. I could not be more proud of our state or our profession as I was on this day.

Warm regards,                                                                                                                                                   

Elizabeth B. Zimmerman, LMSW


 NASW MS Chapter was present at the rally at the Governor Mansion to advocate for repeal of HB 1523.  Social Workers want "NO HATE IN MY STATE"!

Pictured are Hank Rainer, Chapter President, Karen Selestak, Dave Sandefur, Janice Sandefur, Chapter ED, and Mary Ann Everett.

 

NASW says anti-LGBT laws must be vetoed, repealed

People in Chapel Hill, N.C. protest against the state's Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. Photo courtesy of TV Guide.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is both dismayed and disappointed by the legislative actions taken by Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee to deny equal treatment of LGBT individuals and families.  The following is a brief summary of each law:

Mississippi Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act (HB 1523)

The stated purpose of the law is to protect from discrimination claims anyone who believes that marriage is between one man and one woman, that sexual relations are reserved solely for marriage, and that the terms male and female pertain only to a person’s genetics and anatomy at birth. The law allows individuals (including those working in publicly funded courts and services), businesses, and religious organizations to use religion to discriminate against LGBT persons and their families.  Examples range from the right to refuse marriage certificates refusing to employ a person and/or rent or sell a person property.  Also, medical professionals can refuse to provide health care if a patient seeks treatment, counseling and surgery related to “sex reassignment or gender identity transitioning[1].

Tennessee LGBT Anti-Counseling Legislation (SB-1556)

The Tennessee anti-LGBT law declares that no person providing counseling or therapy services (in private practice) shall be required to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the counselor or therapist. Furthermore, the bill provides immunity from liability for counselors and therapists who refuse to counsel a client when doing so is in conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the counselor or therapist.

North Carolina Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act ( HB DRH40005-TC-1B)

The North Carolina Facilities Privacy and Security Act, which was passed by the North Carolina legislature, requires schools and public agencies to have gender-segregated bathrooms and to prevent people from using a bathroom that doesn’t correspond to their biological sex.  Further, the law states individuals cannot bring any civil action based upon the state’s employment or public accommodation nondiscrimination protections.  It states that cities and counties are prohibited from writing non-discrimination ordinances that protect LGBT people or veterans.  This trend in legal discrimination is growing, with  13 other states  considering similar legislation.

NASW Position

NASW believes that these laws, passed under the guise of “religious freedom” or to “protect children,” must be vetoed or repealed.  Taken separately or collectively, all three laws are objectionable and are an affront to the progress we have made toward protecting the civil and human rights of all Americans.

While NASW respects diversity of many types, various freedoms and rights are subject to reasonable limitations and religious expression does not automatically trump other legitimate interests.[2]   NASW has joined allied mental health provider groups to voice concern that such laws violate their professions’ policies and the NASW Code of Ethics. NASW believes that discrimination and prejudice dir­ected against any group is damaging to the so­cial, emotional, and economic well-being of the affected group and of society as a whole.

[1] CNN News  April 16, 2016.  Retrieved from: http://cnn.it/1qUMSOU

[2] NASW  Legal Issue of the Month.  Provider Refusal and Conscious Clause Controversies.

For more information on this issue contact NASW Senior Policy Associate Evelyn Tomaszewski at etomaszewski@naswdc.org.

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