Advancing Health Equity as a Social Worker and a Leader

We simply cannot think of an individual more deserving of recognition as a Multiple Myeloma Health Equity Hero than Yu Mee Song.

It is my distinct pleasure to nominate Yu Mee Song, LCSW, OSW-C, of the Center of Excellence for Multiple Myeloma at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York for the Multiple Myeloma Health Equity Hero Award.

Yu Mee is our program coordinator and lead oncology social worker in a team of five social workers covering services across outpatient and inpatient settings. She has extensive years of experience in the healthcare system, and since 2010 she has made significant contributions in caring for our patients and helping our practice work toward achieving health equity through her work as a social work practitioner,as part of an interdisciplinary team, and as a leader to the social work team.

As a practice located in one of the most diverse cities in the world, we care for 3,000 patients ofdiverse backgrounds, race, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, cultural or spiritual values and beliefs, level of social support and personal life history. All of these factors, in addition to the psychosocial stressors unique to each patient’s location in their multiple myeloma journey, make up the complex experience of our patients.

In the recent years of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York City became the national pandemic epicenter, and greater challenges and complexities have been added to the needs of our patients. Multiple myeloma is known to disproportionately impact Black/African Americans, a historically marginalized group who also are at higher risk of experiencing social determinants of health challenges, and individuals of this group make up a large proportion of our patients.

Given the degree of diversity in our patient population and the complex web of variables that can contribute to health outcomes, social workers are an integral part of our teams for support and advocacy. For many years, prior to the expansion of the social work team, Yu Mee was the sole social worker supporting patients through thecomplex journey that living with myeloma can be.

Feedback we don’t stop hearing in clinic includes“I could not have done this without Yu Mee.”Yu Mee has shown tremendous dedication to our patients and community, and continues to be an outstanding resource for patients throughout the years, for educational, social, financial, emotional and spiritual support.

In addition to her work with individual patients, she actively identifies and reaches out to patients withnew diagnoses or patients new to our practice to inform and engage them in support programs and resources available at our facility or in the community. She runs a monthly information and education group in collaboration with experts and organizations in the field to create a space for connection and support and to share different expertise and resources. Information and education are key first stepsto addressing healthcare barriers. Yu Mee has played an integral part in being a resource for patientsso that patients are equipped and informed to best encounter the challenges presented to them.

With the growth of our practice and the team of social workers, Yu Mee has become an effective leader and program coordinator. She has hired a diverse, multilingual team (five languages), and she has contributed much to the growth of the team and support programs. Yu Mee provides staff supervision and development bypromoting continued education and ongoing discussions about patient needs in the context of health inequity, resource development and interventions.

Yu Mee has mobilized individual staff strengths and skills to encourage and promote diverse programming for patients. At this time, the multiple myeloma social work team runs five programs that offer support and resources to our patients. She has demonstrated leadership skills in making programmatic changes that benefit both staff and patients, and she promotesand maintainshigh morale at a time when the healthcare system is wrestling withburnout.

The care of complex oncology patients facing systemic barriers to healthcare requires the outstanding motivation, commitment, diligence, clinical judgment, and interpersonal and analytical skills that Yu Mee has in unparalleled abundance. Even in the medical system that gives little recognition to support allied health staff, Yu Mee has continued to thrive while maintaining and spreading the passion and purpose in working toward health equity.

We simply cannot think of an individual more deserving of recognition as a Multiple Myeloma Health Equity Hero than Yu Mee Song.

Sincerely,

Angie Eunji Lee, LCSW, on behalf of the Center of Excellence for Multiple Myeloma at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital