The San Luis Obispo chapter of The National Association of Social Workers has chosen longtime Atascadero State Hospital employee Greg Blanc as Social Worker of the Year for 2011.
Blanc, a resident of Atascadero, joined ASH in 1986 and since then has spent his days counseling one-on-one with mentally ill patients and reaching out to their families to help with patients’ transitions into society.
ASH is one of the highest-level security facilities among California’s five state hospitals, admitting male patients who are referred from other state hospitals, criminal courts and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Blanc works with families, the Social Security Administration and other agencies throughout California to find the best resources for a patient who is being discharged.
“People are always asking me how I can work with the mentally ill They are real human beings with real lives and real families,” Blanc said.
He manages a caseload of 25 patients but takes part in a variety of treatments with others throughout the hospital.
Blanc has a severe hearing impairment, which makes it difficult for him to talk on the phone, but said, “It’s also made me a better social worker.”
Blanc said he was humbled by the award, which is presented annually to a social worker in San Luis Obispo County who represents The National Association of Social Workers’ core values.
The local chapter has approximately 100 members.
There are more than 50 social workers at ASH.
Blanc, who plans to retire in three years at the age of 55, has a master’s degree in social work from San Diego State University and became a licensed clinical social worker in 1988.
He has received the Social Worker of the Month award a number of times at ASH.
Blanc will be honored at the local National Association of Social Workers meeting from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Creekside Clubhouse, 3960 S. Higuera St. in San Luis Obispo.
— Julia Hickey
Hospitals’ donation in honor of fire chief
French Hospital Medical Center and Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center will donate four automated external defibrillators to the American Red Cross in honor of former San Luis Obispo Fire Chief John Callahan, who died of a heart attack in August.
The AEDs, portable machines that are meant to shock the heart back to its normal rhythm, will be placed by the Red Cross in San Luis Obispo areas requested by the community.
Callahan was a proponent of the use of AEDs. A plaque will be placed next to each of the devices commemorating him.
— AnnMarie Cornejo