Our colleague, Justin Patterson Cooke passed away on July 14, 2016 at the age of 53. Even though Justin is no longer with us, we will cherish his memory and the gift of a beautiful legacy.
He was a loving husband and father and the pride and joy that his family brought him was evident in his demeanor every time he spoke of them.
Justin devoted his professional life to Social Work. He was last on the Home Healthcare team but had many roles since he first joined Community Medical Centers in 2004 to work in the Emergency Department at University Medical Center.
He was always a champion for our patients. Whether the patient just needed someone to be on the other end of a phone call or needed a phone, Justin fought for or became the solution.
He would accompany patients to doctor’s appointments to “translate” the physician’s information into a language the patient could understand.
He helped patients navigate through the complexities of medical care.
He assessed “non-compliant” patients, determining and communicating what they needed to understand in regards to their chronic illnesses, medications, required testing, treatments, and physician visits.
He would pick up medications for a patient living in tent city because they couldn’t get to the pharmacy.
And the list goes on and on.
He also was an amazing role model for co-workers. During his start at UMC, he educated the staff on the importance of social work services and was effective in working with the complex patient population.
In 2005, Justin moved on to provide social work and case management in the Special Services clinic. While there, he facilitated education and peer support groups to patients with HIV/AIDS, including substance abuse abstinence and harm reduction modalities.
Justin’s next career move came in 2009, when he became a Clinical Coordinator for Case Management at Community Regional. In this role, he was responsible for oversight of the department Social Workers. The leadership position was a new assignment for him, yet he wholeheartedly jumped in and absorbed every aspect of the world of management. He loved his role as a coordinator, which was a blend of working alongside staff, making face to face contact with patients and families, and leadership. He always said it was the best of both worlds.
Justin’s commitment to elevating the social work profession in the acute hospital setting was one of his passions. He worked with the department leadership to provide clinical supervision to social work staff to promote professional growth and advanced practice skills. To this date, there are 13 licensed clinical social workers in the Community Regional Case Management department - a hugely successful accomplishment and result of his dream.
In 2011, Justin was promoted to the Manager of Case Management position. Working in conjunction with a second CM manager, they provided oversight to a department composed of social workers, utilization review nurses, and case management liaisons. As a team, both worked diligently and tirelessly to lead the department through change, expansion, and providing competent services for Community Regional. As a leader, Justin played a significant role as a mentor, teacher, confidante, and resource.
After his time in a leadership role with Case Management, Justin made a career change in 2014 and joined the Home Health team. During the time we had Justin on our team, he held a role that was tailored to his unique talents, abilities, and gifts. He identified patients with a high utilization of the ED, patients that had a dire lack of resources to manage their chronic illness. He met with these patients, identified the individual needs, and then fulfilled them to the best of his ability.
In the last couple of weeks, we have been sharing our fondest memories and feelings about Justin. The words and descriptions reflect how we all saw him: selfless, tireless, patient, compassionate, nonjudgmental, trustworthy, social justice advocate, respectful, collaborative, one of a kind, genuine, passionate, leader, teacher, mentor, confidante, resource, friend, loving, humanitarian, and angel.
We will truly miss him! Rebecca Williams, RN