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Social work and telehealth: How Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) social workers in the Veterans Health Administration responded to COVID-19.
Cornell PY, Celardo C, Chmelka G, Giles AJ, Halladay CW, Halaszynski J, Montano AR, Rudolph JL, Silva JW. Social work and telehealth: How Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) social workers in the Veterans Health Administration responded to COVID-19. Social Work in Health Care. 2021 Apr 7; 60(2):131-145.
In March 2020, the Veterans Health Administration (VA) responded to pandemic shutdowns with a rapid pivot toward providing services via telehealth. Using data on Veterans who received interventions from social workers between 2019 and 2020 at sites that participated in a national program to increase social work staffing in primary care, we examined changes in frequency and modality of social work encounters that occurred with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. We found that primary care social workers maintained a consistent level of engagement, with increases in telephone and video telehealth encounters as in-person visits decreased. Through front-line perspectives, we discuss the practical innovations and policies that enabled those changes in care from VA primary care social workers.