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5 questions with social worker Rachael Bradbury

Friday, April 12, 2019

We posed five questions to Rachael Bradbury, a psychiatric social worker – and lead social worker – for the Crossroads Program on Oregon State Hospital’s Salem campus.

Tell us about your job: what's a psychiatric social worker do at Oregon State Hospital (OSH)?

Every patient at OSH is assigned a social worker at admission. Psychiatric social workers work with individuals who have serious and persistent mental illnesses or SPMI, and they know what therapeutic interventions are appropriate for different diagnoses.

At admission, we complete a psychosocial assessment of our patient’s mental health history and the impact of cultural factors, family dynamics, and their environment. Often, a person is upset or angry about being admitted to OSH. We provide emotional support and help them process these feelings.

We also are the main point of contact for families, providing resources and support. We are the liaisons with community providers, sharing clinical recommendations to county partners, and facilitating screenings for outpatient services and residential placement.

What do you specifically do at Crossroads?

Crossroads serves patients that have been civilly committed or who have been signed in by a guardian. At the Salem campus, we work with patients who have transferred from acute care hospitals throughout the state, but a majority come from Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties.

They have been diagnosed with an SPMI and require hospital level of care due to safety concerns. The goal is to stabilize the patient, assess their needs, and help connect them with resources so that they can quickly return to the community. Our program is focused on skill development and a connection to the community through outings, natural supports, and our partners at the county level.

As the lead worker, I am assigned some of the more complex cases at Crossroads. Patients on my caseload typically have additional barriers to discharge. They may be declining services necessary for their safety, or they may have anxiety about leaving the hospital and re-entering the community and be unwilling to look at housing.

In such cases, it’s usually important to develop a strong relationship with the patient, understand their motivation and goals, and create a partnership in the discharge process. I also train new social workers and provide clinical leadership to the Person Directed Transition Team, a group deigned to promote community reintegration and shorten length of stay.

What's your educational background, and how and why did you get into social work?

I have a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and had been working in the graphic design field for several years. I had a moment of realization one day when designing a coupon for a battery – what I was doing didn’t matter! I started volunteering at a suicide prevention line and began graduate studies in social work at Eastern Washington University.

My practicum was with an intensive outpatient team for a community mental health organization in Vancouver, Washington. I was later hired, and I continued working there after I graduated with my Master’s in Social Work in 2015. I had a social work acquaintance at OSH who spoke highly of the hospital’s commitment to patient care and the opportunity to learn alongside different disciplines. In 2016, I began working at OSH with the aid and assist population. In 2017, I transferred to the Crossroads Program.

What's your typical day like?

My day typically starts by catching up on emails and phone calls with community providers and family members of patients. The Crossroads’ social workers have a morning huddle and then I have various meetings with nursing staff, the interdisciplinary team, and individual patients. In addition to these meetings and consultations, I may call a county worker to provide updates on patient progress, and I may accompany a patient on a screening for housing or mental health services.

Can you tell us a little about yourself outside of work?

My partner, Frankie, and I moved to Salem from Portland after purchasing our first home recently. We’re interested in exploring our new city, including the breweries and restaurants. I enjoy live music, films, and spending time with my chocolate labradoodle Oscar. I was hoping that Oscar could be certified to come with me to OSH to provide animal-assisted therapy. Unfortunately, his puppy enthusiasm often gets the best of him, and he doesn’t seem to have the temperament to stay seated through meetings.

This story was originally posted on March 20, 2019 in the OHA Connection newsletter, in honor of National Social Worker Month.


Rachael Bradbury, lead social worker for the Crossroads Program

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