Women in Social Services Leadership

In 1987, the United States Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month, a fact that demonstrates an important move towards recognizing the achievements of women in this country. With that in mind, this month CAMBA Voice is spotlighting the work of an outstanding female staff member who has shown remarkable leadership within the agency.

Recently, our blog got the chance to hear the inspiring journey that CAMBA staff member, Marta Figueroa-Santos, has taken throughout her years of service at CAMBA in her current role as Vice-President of CAMBA’s Health Link Program. Marta leads a program that provides services to clients in a holistic manner with extended services to New York City Medicaid patients who have at least two chronic health conditions or who are diagnosed with mental illness, HIV/AIDS – this method of service delivery not only links clients to care, but also addresses the social determinates of health.

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Marta Figueroa-Santos, Vice President of Health Homes at CAMBA

“Sometimes, we can underestimate the impact of one person. What you achieved with that one person can impact so many other people. That single person is a part of someone’s family and community when you are able to improve their health and stability benefits everyone they are connected to,” Marta said.

Earlier in life, Marta says that she discovered her passion for helping others as she put to use her Master’s degree in Social Community Psychology within community-based organizations. Marta spoke of her ten years of experience in social services, which started with the Puerto Rico Community Network for Clinical Research on AIDS (CoNCRA ), in which she managed while facilitating programs for people living with HIV as well as prevention programs for youth.

Marta described her transition to CAMBA seven years ago with her first experience of managing Scattered Site Housing Units for people living with substance abuse, mental health issues and HIV. Then, she became the Assistant Program Director for Health Homes, and she was promoted three years later to her current position as Vice-President of Health Homes.

While Marta’s career has soared, her focus continues to be on advocating for her clients and staff. Marta touched on the current New York State health care environment and the steps she’s taking to ensure that her program is ready to participate. The new Medicaid Redesign Initiative has value based payments that compensate doctors, hospitals and providers to keep patients healthy instead of the staff getting paid a fee for each service.

Her suggestion was for doctors to recommend their patients to the Health Link program when they are presently focused on health so the services are available to them to maintain their health. This referral allows Health Homes to what it does best, which is evaluate social determinates of health, and then offer support for the many challenges poverty brings to health, such as transportation, employment and housing.

Marta’s advice to young people interested in working in social services is to be aware that this field can be difficult at times – sometimes giving up seems to be the easiest route. The only way you can get through difficult times, Marta said, is to focus on your successes, no matter how small they are. For example, she said, if you have a case load of 20 clients and 19 are not returning your calls, but there is one person who stays connected and follows the recommendations that you gave them. Hold on to that feeling of accomplishment, and let it continue to drive you, Marta said.

CAMBA sends out its gratitude to women like Marta who continue to encourage, defend and strengthen communities in need.

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