Alumni Update: Barite Gemada (MNLEND Fellow, 2016-17)
Barite Gemada is a social worker at PrairieCare, a multidisciplinary psychiatric care provider, in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. She works with children and adolescents from diverse backgrounds, who are admitted to the hospital, typically due to safety concerns.
Throughout her career in mental health services, Gemada (MNLEND Fellow, 2015-16) has adhered to a personal mission of meeting people where they are.
“Being a great social worker involves understanding someone’s environment and what they truly need,” she said. “I constantly advocate for patients’ involvement in their treatment planning, instead of just creating goals that seem right to me.”
Gemada’s MNLEND experience at ICI’s Minnesota Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Program (MNLEND) capitalized on those values.
“One of the most important concepts I learned while in the LEND program was the importance of person-centered care,” she said. “Understanding patients’ needs, their first language, and focusing on their humanity rather than only seeing their problems helps me stay grounded and provide the care that people truly need.”
Even outside her work, as a community member, some of the same insights stick with her today.
“About a year ago, I lived in a three-story apartment building that did not have elevators and the building doors were not wheelchair accessible. Every time I entered that building, I thought about how challenging it would be for people with physical disabilities to live there. And I never saw anyone with a wheelchair even visit anyone in that building,” she said.
Continuing to call out injustice and advocate for all patients adds a sense of mission to her work.
“I’m more attuned to my surroundings now,” she said. “I am forever grateful for everything I learned in LEND, from learning about resources to understanding social justice issues impacting people with disabilities.”