March 14, 2022
MCHD recognizes staff during Women’s History Month
MOBILE, Ala. — March marks Women’s History Month. The theme for this year is “women providing healing, promoting hope.”
Healing is a transformational experience in which suffering turns into wholeness and inner strength. Meanwhile, hope offers endless possibilities of a future free from suffering and full of light.
Especially during this past year, healing and hope have both been essential for our recovery and future. Women, sometimes through great personal sacrifice, have brought healing and hope to their families, workplaces, and communities in order to ease suffering and ensure wellbeing.
However, the theme recognizes not only the contributions of healers and frontline workers during the past year but also for the countless ways women have provided healing and hope throughout history. Historically, women have been among the first to advocate for compassionate treatments and new directions in mental and physical health.
The Mobile County Health Department’s Health Equity Office will be recognizing and honoring women within MCHD who are dedicated to the mission of healing and hope. During each week of March, the Health Equity Office will be featuring women within MCHD to celebrate their achievements and contributions. This feature will be highlighting women from various roles and from all walks of life who are all essential to healing and hope.
This week’s contribution from Outreach Educator Skandan Ananthasekar we will be spotlighting Jacqueline Austin, Deidre Johnson, Irma Reyes, and Zsaree Sewell.
Jacqueline Austin is a custodial worker at Citronelle Health Center who has been with MCHD for six years. Jacqueline enjoys coming to work everyday and enjoys the work she does. She described how she gets to meet new people everyday and has grown to be like family with her coworkers.
Custodial workers like Jacqueline are often overlooked but are vital to the mission of healing and hope. Jacqueline protects the lives of patients and staff by preventing the spread of disease. She makes sure that the waiting rooms and patient rooms look neat and attractive, helping keep patients happy and increasing their trust in the healthcare provided by the facility.
By cleaning up spills and messes, she prevents serious injuries such as falls. She is also able to put patients at ease by greeting them and being nice to them. Through her work of maintaining a cleanly and safe environment, Jacqueline promotes health equity by reducing the risk of disease and injury.
Deirdre Johnson is a Peer Recovery Specialist who has been with the agency for two years. She works to save lives, families, and communities who are suffering from addiction. She received her certification as a Recovery Support Specialist from the Alabama Department of Mental Health while working in Montgomery at The Counsel of Substance Abuse.
She describes MCHD as the greatest show on earth and loves MCHD’s commitment to public health, the community, and families. She appreciates how everyone at MCHD is treated like family and admires the management team for their leadership and treating their employees with respect and caring about their wellbeing and families.
Deirdre’s firsthand experiences with addiction and recovery ignited her passion for public health. She battled with addiction for over 15 years and there were no programs available to her when she was going through battle with addiction. She recalls a time when her mother could not sleep at night worrying about her. However, through grace of a loving God, a 12-step fellowship, and church her mother was able to see her daughter graduate from college, find a job, buy a house, become a productive member of society, and start working on a master’s degree. She describes how she was able to pull her life back together with the help of The Lord and community resources.
Now as a Peer Recovery Specialist, Deirdre is able to give back to society and let the community know that MCHD cares about what happens to their loved ones. She was amazed at the opportunity to share her story and let people know that there is no need for any addict to die from the disease of addiction. She especially wants to let every woman know that they too can recover, since women tend to stay addicted longer than men.
She thanks God for relieving her of her suffering and for giving her the opportunity to educate people about opioid use, opioid misuse, and substance use disorder. Through her story, Deidre promotes health equity and gives individuals suffering with addiction hope that they too can make it and recover.
Irma Reyes is a clinical outreach educator and interpreter who has been with MCHD nearing on 13 years. What Irma enjoys about MCHD is the retirement system, the holidays off, and her administrators and co-workers.
Irma first became interested in public health because during times of disease outbreak people turn to public health agencies and officials on advice on how to stay safe. As a result, she wanted to be a part of something that was helpful and essential for our community and as an interpreter she is a vital part of the process.
She also wanted to work at MCHD because public health can make a difference in the lives of underrepresented groups in the community and is inclusive of all races. Irma is always ready to help in anything she can, no matter what. As an interpreter, Irma is able to advance health equity by bridging language barriers and improving health literacy.
Zsaree Sewell is a clinic administrator for Semmes Health Center and the Women’s Health Center who has been with the agency for eight months. Zsaree enjoys the family environment at MCHD, the culture, and being able to be of service to others.
Zsaree has always had a passion to help others and with healthcare, especially public health, she is able to maximize her opportunity to help those in need when they are going through their most vulnerable moments. She described that having the ability to create joy for those who may need a pleasant smile or enjoyable conversation brings her joy and fulfillment to her purpose in life.
Zsaree’s role as a public healthcare professional is ensuring that all underserved communities have access to adequate healthcare resources. Her motto is “no patient left behind.” Her goal is to prevent health inequities and the majority of her job involves removing barriers so that individuals of lower socioeconomic status receive the same care as those that are more fortunate. However, she wants to ensure that patients not only have equality but equity as well.
A few of the ways that she promotes health equity is by providing information and resources that are accessible to everyone, educating patients on a variety of health topics, helping patients with additional resources such as transportation to appointments, referring them to community organizations such as Mobile Community action to assist with bills, and referring patients with greater needs to well-equipped specialists. It is clear that Zsaree is advancing health equity everyday and is vital to the mission of healing and hope.