I love removing barriers: “Maggie Tolbert fights for access to mental health services: the best nurses

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Maggie Tolbert grew up in a small city in Alabama, the place Jim Crow legal guidelines nonetheless utilized. Blacks weren’t allowed to eat within the lunch counter on the native drug retailer, and the native hospital was separated.

These experiences led to her willpower to struggle for equality in healthcare and to interrupt down obstacles to care throughout her profession as a registered nurse.

“I need to ensure that it doesn’t matter what your share of life is, irrespective of how a lot cash you’ve gotten, you’ve gotten entry to equal, high-quality behavioral well being care companies,” mentioned Tolbert, 64.

Tolbert is the winner of the Nurse Innovator Award for Finest Nurses at cleveland.com for her dedication to innovation.

Tolbert is the assistant chief medical officer of the Cuyahoga County Board of Alcohol, Drug Habit and Psychological Well being Providers, which funds and displays public psychological well being companies, habit therapy, and restoration for county residents.

She was honored for her work as undertaking supervisor for the Cuyahoga County Diversion Middle, a 50-bed facility that gives a spot for folks with signs of psychological sickness and/or habit to obtain therapy as a substitute of going to jail. Remedy prices are lined by Medicaid or the ADAMHS Board.

Whereas the conversion middle was within the planning phases, Tolbert was a key determine in bringing collectively a broad coalition that included legislation enforcement, psychological well being advocacy teams, ministers, and different group leaders to debate the kind of facility required and develop its requirements.

“We needed to ensure that we bought help and that it could meet the wants of the group,” she mentioned.

The ADAMHS Board of Administrators has appointed Oriana Home, which offers behavioral well being and group correction companies, to function the referral middle.

“Maggie’s medical expertise have been important to the event of the Cuyahoga County Transformation Middle requirements,” mentioned Mike Randell, government vice chairman of operations at Oriana Home, in an e mail. “Her data of behavioral well being practices and dedication to serving to people with psychological well being points helped us develop companies that have been important to the maintenance and operation of the referral middle.”

Though she hasn’t labored instantly with sufferers for years, she nonetheless will get calls from former sufferers’ relations asking for her recommendation. She makes use of her data of obtainable sources to determine locations that may assist, even when the individual doesn’t have insurance coverage.

Scott S. Oseki, CEO of the ADAMHS Cuyahoga County Board of Administrators, mentioned in an e mail.

“She is dependable, very educated and doesn’t let something get in the best way of her getting her work finished. I’m happy with her for thus many issues, particularly her work creating and supervising the Cuyahoga County Transformation Middle. Maggie deserves this award and our group is best due to her dedication.”

Tolbert additionally labored to make sure that the companies of the ADAMHS Board of Administrators have been equally obtainable on the West and East Aspect.

“It does not matter who you might be,” mentioned Tolbert, who lives in Cleveland Heights. “You’ll proceed to get service. And also you don’t need to go 50 miles throughout the bridge to get that service.”

Senior Nurse Maggie Tolbert

“I like eradicating obstacles, as a result of I at all times see that this[patient]generally is a member of my household,” mentioned registered nurse Maggie Tolbert, assistant medical director for the ADAMHS Council in Cuyahoga County. Credit score: Julie E. Washington

Resolve issues and take away obstacles

Tolbert mentioned that behavioral well being is usually misunderstood. They inform sufferers and households that the affected person has a mind illness, and that they don’t seem to be accountable.

However that does not imply you may’t do something (that will help you) perform as greatest you may,” mentioned Tolbert, who additionally labored as a psychiatric nurse at college hospitals. “Behavioral well being nurses train folks how one can carry out on the highest degree of efficiency they will do.”

Tolbert began on the ADAMHS board as a specialist medical nurse 21 years in the past. She enjoys fixing issues at her job.

“I like eradicating obstacles, as a result of I at all times see that this (affected person) may very well be considered one of my household,” she mentioned. “How do I would like my household to be handled? Typically with healthcare, it may be tough when you don’t get to the suitable individual.”

In a earlier place as a behavioral well being nurse with the Ohio Visiting Nurses Affiliation, she visited sufferers who had been discharged from the hospital however nonetheless had despair or hallucinations. She helped with drugs and coordinating different medical care.

Tolbert recollects visiting an aged black lady to evaluate whether or not she was depressed. The lady and her home have been clear. When Tolbert requested if she had ever been sexually assaulted, the girl started to cry.

“She mentioned it was the primary time anybody had requested her about it,” Tolbert mentioned. “I assumed at her age, on the time, that these have been issues she did not speak about.” Tolbert urged the girl to deal with the early trauma that was contributing to her despair.

Tolbert plans to stay on the ADAMHS board till retirement.

“I actually suppose God will inform me when it is time to transfer on,” Tolbert mentioned. “I do not imagine in staying perpetually.”

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