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Congratulations to Dr. Lella Still, DSW, MSW, BSW, for graduating from the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Social Work (COSW) with her Doctorate of Social Work. Dr. Still’s capstone project, “Falling from the Discharge Cliff: How Social Work Interventions can Bridge the Gap after Psychiatric Hospitalization to Improve Patient Outcomes,” explores whether phone-based transitional care interventions reduce hospital readmission rates for psychiatric patients. Dr. Still is the Social Work Director for Eastern State Hospital (ESH) and Good Samaritan Behavioral Health Units.

During the completion of her degree, Dr. Still was involved with the Work Learning Program (WLP) at ESH. Still highlighted the ways the WLP program benefitted her studies. She shared, “From seminars and collegial team support to a dedicated room with refreshments and other resources, the program is just one more example of how UK values learning and goes above and beyond to support staff who want to further their careers.”

Still shared her gratitude for the ways that ESH has provided tremendous opportunities along her career path. Being most interested in mezzo and macro social work, Still’s role allows her to be involved in leadership, policy, and programming of new areas. In addition, Still was able to grow her leadership skills through the DSW program. She shares, “I have a great boss who is super supportive and encourages my professional growth. Doors keep opening here and I keep on walking through them. I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

In reflecting on what has been most impactful in her career, Still shares, “It’s hard to choose one thing… If I have to choose, I would say the opportunity to be a part of such a rich training ground for new social workers. Eastern State attracts and produces some of the best social workers around, in my opinion. Our department very much values our students and very much embodies the 'teaching' hospital philosophy. In addition to our students, all of our social workers are either certified social workers or independently licensed clinical social workers, some of whom provide supervision to the CSWs. That, along with the WLP and tuition assistance as a UK benefit, makes this a setting that highly values social work learning, and both promotes and elevates social work.”

Marc Woods, Chief Nursing Officer with UK Health Care notes, “Lella Still's graduation from the DSW program at the College of Social Work, University of Kentucky, is a testament to her dedication to lifelong learning and advocacy.She has been a beacon of exceptional leadership as Social Work Director. Her colleagues often speak of her unwavering commitment to growth and her ability to inspire her team to learn new skills and think ‘differently.’ Dr. Woods continues, "Still is the eternal advocate, never rushing to judgment, always considering the alternative, and always willing to stand firm for those she advocates for." This approach to leadership has fostered a culture of continuous learning within her team, making a significant difference in the lives of those they serve.

Still completed her DSW coursework as part of Eastern State Hospital’s Work Learning Program which provides specific, evidence-based support to select full-time health professionals also seeking to advance their education. Heather Robertson, Director of the Work Learning Program at ESH shares the importance of Still’s work and research to ESH patients. “Her recent project aimed at reducing readmissions offers a prime example of her innovative and compassionate approach to social work. She introduced a method to support patients in need by implementing follow-up calls after discharge, ensuring their attendance at their next appointment. This initiative has improved patient outcomes and highlights Still's dedication to discovering new ways to support her community. Lella Still is a true example of an executive social work leader, always seeking new solutions to serve those in need better."

Congratulations Dr. Still!