Rhonda Lieberman ’83: Protecting social workers in the Bronx

As the COVID-19 pandemic became a reality, Rhonda Lieberman ’83 was determined to find a way all 65 of her essential personnel social workers could work from home instead of meeting clients in the Bronx. 

She oversees a care management program of 2,400 high-risk chronically ill people through Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York City. The following was adapted, with Lieberman’s permission, from her Facebook post.

This is part of a series of stories on Cornellians responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our clients are among the most vulnerable, but my staff is human and were equally worried about their own situations and how they would cope with all of this, especially riding the subways and meeting their clients face-to-face in the heart of the Bronx,” Lieberman wrote. “I needed to address the team’s understandable anxiety, but find a way to continue to help our clients stay as healthy as possible and educate them on the importance of social distancing. Working from home was not typical for my team of social workers, but with the assistance of a dedicated IT department and a lot of persistence and collaboration, I am happy to say that within a week, all of my staff members were fully equipped to work remotely.” 

Lieberman says she feels like she did her part to reduce the risk of exposure by addressing her team’s concerns and supporting their clients more effectively through the crisis.

“I’ve lived through blackouts, 9/11, and hurricanes, but this has taken on a life of its own,” she wrote. “We all need to do our part, so I urge everyone to skip an unnecessary trip to the store, don’t congregate in groups, even outside, practice social distancing, universal precautions and common sense. Stay active and optimistic, but embrace your social limitations. We need to get back to the things we love; musicians need to play their music together in venues, bartenders need to tend bar, bus boys need to bus tables, The Yankees need to play ball and Broadway needs their lights turned back on. As someone reminded me, we need to come together, but just not physically for now!”

Lieberman majored in sociology at Cornell.

How are you responding to the COVID-19 pandemic? Contact us to share your story, or alert us to other Cornellian’s responses.