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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
Social Work in Health Care  (IF1.602),  Pub Date : 2021-04-07, DOI: 10.1080/00981389.2021.1904320
Portia Y. Cornell, Caitlin Celardo, GinaR. Chmelka, Angela J. Giles, Christopher W. Halladay, Jaime Halaszynski, Anna-Rae Montano, James L. Rudolph, Jennifer W. Silva


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.