2019 SCHA Awards
Outstanding Social Worker

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Mary D. Pettway Mary D. Pettway

Mary D. Pettway

Position: Director of Social Services

Organization: Lomita Post Acute Care Center


Describe how your Nominee has exceeded his or her Job Description, becoming a hero to you or others. Provide an example or as much detail as possible of the things that they do that go above and beyond their job description.
It takes a special person to be a social worker. Not many people can do what a social worker does, but to be a social worker that goes about any other, that’s special. I’ve known Mary for more than a decade, and every time I come to see her, she takes some time to complain about how busy she is. But her complains are not about the work that she has to do, her complains are about not having enough time to do all the extra things that she wants to do for the patients. She wants to spend more time with them at their bed site; she wants to know them at the personal level, not just as a patient. She figures out what they need and makes sure their needs are met, and she gets to know their spouses, kids, and grandkids. If they don’t have any family, then she makes sure that she is there for them every step of the way. I have the first-hand experience and saw her in action when a dementia patient was very agitated. I can’t explain it. The senior was very stressed, and she came in and held his hand looked at his eyes and said hi I’m Mary. And that was it, he calmed down and was able to make him relax.
She has a very unique sense of humor, and I found out that she is a very talented singer. She can sing almost anything. She sings to the patients and with the patients. When I told her coworkers that I nominated her for the hero awards, they were so happy. How can I describe it? Two of them were jumping, and their faces lighted up. I could see their genuine happiness in their faces. They genuinely care and respect her. Every single one of them loves her. Everyone I asked said the same; “She deserves it, and it’s about time someone recognizes her.”
Mary was born on a small farm in Alabama. She is one of 13 children. There were nine girls and four boys. She worked on the farm to help her mom and dad. She knows what hard work is. Later in her life, she moved to California and worked in different jobs until she found out about senior care. She felt in love with them and started to pursue social work. In 1997 she became the Social services assistant at Lomita Health Care and Rehab, and she never looked back. She is now the Director of Social Services, and she has been working there for 22 years. It is incredible to see someone to be working in such a demanding career and holding the same position and in the same skilled nursing facility for such a long time.
Every morning she looks forward to coming to work and help her seniors. She wouldn’t have it another way.