Sharif named Social Worker of the Year

A longtime employee at Henry Medical Center has received statewide recognition for providing needed services to patients locally.

Shy Sharif, social services coordinator at the hospital’s Laurel Park Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation facility, was recently named the 2011 Social Worker of the Year by the Georgia Health Care Association’s Georgia Society of Nursing Home Social Workers.

Sharif has served as Laurel Park’s social services coordinator since March 2006. Since that time, she has gone “over and above” the call of duty to meet the needs of patients, including those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, according to Belinda Rice, director of affiliates for the Georgia Health Care Association, based in Stockbridge.

“She created their first Alzheimer’s Disease support group, and that’s mainly for a family to understand why their [loved ones] are acting the way they’re acting,” said Rice. “She definitely thinks outside the box. I think the residents [at Laurel Park] are like her family.”

The Georgia Health Care Association provides education for employees at 352 member nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and home-care agencies in Georgia, encompassing 1,200 social workers statewide.

“We provide education for anyone who works in a nursing home,” said Rice. “We have 352 nursing homes that are members of our association,” Rice said.

Sharif, she added, was one of 19 social workers nominated for the award.

“She won a week anywhere she wants to go, in the world,” said Rice. “She has to pay her airfare or drive there, but all of her lodging will be taken care of once she gets there.”

Sharif could not be reached for comment, Monday. Rice provided comments from Sharif’s co-workers at Laurel Park, which were submitted to the Georgia Health Care Association, as part of the nomination process for Sharif’s award.

“When we have had patients who were psychotic and needed immediate psychiatric intervention, she has always been able to come through for us and the resident and has used her resources to find placement that was in the best interest of the resident,” one letter states. “She ensures when we discharge residents to go home after rehabilitation that they have the durable medical equipment, medications, etc.,... needed for them to continue to have the quality of life that they deserve.”

“She [Sharif] played a vital role in assisting us to get a dental program in our facility, [and] is currently working on an eye group that will come into our facility and treat our residents,” another co-worker wrote.

Sharif has a bachelor’s degree in Social Work, and a master’s degree in Social Work from Clark Atlanta University, according to Henry Medical Center Public Relations Specialist Michelle Nunnally. Sharif is the current vice president of the Georgia Health Care Association’s Georgia Society of Nursing Home Social Workers, and a past president and vice president of the Georgia Society of Nursing Home Social Workers’ Metro Atlanta Council.

Sharif is also a member of the Clayton State University Advisor Board’s Geriatric Certificate Program.