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The morning we initially planned to meet Elizabeth Rosado to talk about her work, she had to deal with an emergency.  Liz spent most of the day at the hospital with a loved one.  She still offered to meet virtually if she could find time for a break.

That won’t surprise anyone who knows her.  A certified Community Health Worker at CenterPlace Health, Liz dedicates every day to helping others.  She prioritizes being present with whomever needs her—and a lot of people do.  Even with that tall order, she exceeds expectations…the very highest of which might be her own.  (And don’t worry, everyone’s OK!)

Closing Gaps

CenterPlace Health (CPH) is a Federally Qualified Health Center, providing high-quality, low-cost healthcare services to thousands in Sarasota County.  From pediatrics to behavioral health to dental services, CPH offers vital care to medically underserved communities.

As one of three Community Health Workers there, Liz connects CPH patients to a range of social services to help ensure their overall well-being.  Her focus is moms and babies, while colleagues Tiona Settles and Tracy Ann Green handle community outreach and adults and seniors, respectively.  Fluent in Spanish, Liz also takes the lead with all Spanish-speaking patients.

Liz and her teammates serve as a personal link and an intermediary between the system and the community.  “We’re here to help close the gap between services of health and outside resources,” she says.  They also champion improvements to the quality and cultural competency of those services, and help patients build their own capacity and self-sufficiencies.

Job one for Liz is connecting moms, pregnant women, and families to the right community resources for anything they need.  That could be baby supplies, food for the family, or help understanding and paying a bill.  She starts most days at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where she meets with moms who just delivered and essentially serves as their discharge nurse, scheduling follow-up appointments and coordinating care for their newborns.  “They get really excited when we get in there,” Liz says.  “They can leave the hospital and not worry about anything except going to their next appointment.”

After that, Liz heads to one of CPH’s two clinics that provide OB services, spending three days a week at the Women and Children’s Health Center in north Sarasota and the other two at the North Port clinic. She meets with a series of patients to help them navigate the ever-complex health and social services systems.  Liz works hard to remove barriers and be a source of support, always meeting people where they’re at.  She sees anywhere from 30 to 60 patients a month.

Difficult Decisions

Because many of her clients speak only Spanish, Liz tries to anticipate needs they might have now or later.  Ultimately, she wants to leave the door open for future help.  “Those conversations can be uncomfortable,” she says.  “A lot of these patients don’t want to say, ‘Well, I am struggling with my light bill this month…’

Among the many nonprofits to which she refers clients, Mothers Helping Mothers is probably the most frequent.  “They offer assistance with infant supplies,” she says, “and free classes, which I think is a great support system for new moms.”  Another close partner is Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County, which offers classes and lactation consultation specifically for the LatinX and Black communities right at CPH.  Her third top referral:  All Faiths Food Bank.  “A lot of families don’t qualify for financial help, and inflation has exacerbated that,” says Liz.  “The Food Bank has been an amazing resource.”

If she had the proverbial ‘magic wand’ to solve one issue that affects her patients most?  “Absolutely accessible housing,” says Liz. “The price of rent—not just in Sarasota, but in all of Florida—it’s not affordable.  Even if they don’t qualify for any type of government assistance, they’re barely making ends meet.  They have to make that decision of, ‘Do I cut down on groceries for my kids or do I just not make my car payment this month?’

For her patients, Liz is an advocate and an angel.  She’s also an innovator, collaborating with partners and finding ways to ensure someone can get, say, an ultrasound or a specialist visit.  It’s all about maximizing the value of community services.  “We have these resources in the community,” she says, “so how can we make sure patients know what is available to them and how to use them successfully?”

A Caring Field

Liz’s entry into healthcare about five years ago was a 180-degree transition from her prior work—retail management.  “I needed a long-term career path that I knew would be secure for my future,” she recalls.  It was a big decision, but she knew she needed to do it for herself and her family.

Still, Liz sees a theme running from her past work through her current career.  “I’ve always been in a caring field,” she says.  The highlight of her five years in retail was working for Justice, the one-time tween clothing store.  “We really focused on how to make a girl feel good about herself,” Liz recalls.  “We did runway shows and just built connections, making any type of girl feel good about who they are—especially in the society we live in now.”

But the early mornings and late nights took their toll, so she considered the switch to the medical field.  “I always wanted to give back,” she remembers thinking.  “Let me see if this would work for me.”  She found CenterPlace, and it proved an ideal fit.

Liz started as an entry-level Patient Service Representative.  While working full-time, she went back to school to become a Certified Medical Assistant.  Then the Community Health Worker opportunity was presented.  “This does what I was doing before, it just won’t be focused on one girl,” she realized.  “I always say it was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

“We’re a family here…”

Liz’s commitment to caring for others probably stems from her fierce care for her own family.

In 2022, she was living in Port Charlotte with her mother and two teenage sisters when Hurricane Ian struck.  They hid in the bathroom while their house collapsed around them.  No one was hurt, thank goodness, but they lost everything in the disaster.  After a few months of couch surfing, Liz managed to get her own apartment.  She took in her sisters so they could stay in the same school district.

Through it all, Liz never missed a day of work, says Chris Coviello, CPH’s chief advancement and engagement officer.  She also brought her signature can-do attitude, same as always, Chris adds.  And she managed to advance her education farther, earning her associate degree last October.  Now Liz is working toward a bachelor’s in healthcare administration while doing what she loves full-time as a Community Health Worker.  Her eventual goal:  a master’s in health admin.

Amid all of her responsibilities, Liz remains an avid book reader—at least a few pages a night.  “That’s my time away to dissociate from work and school and stress, if I can escape into a book,” she says.  Time with loved ones is also a priority.  “Family has always been a huge thing for me,” she says.

That extends back to work now too.  “We’re a family here at CenterPlace,” she says.  “When it comes to our employees and our patients, we develop those bonds and we always make sure we let people know we are here for them.”

About Barancik Foundation

The Charles and Margery Barancik family has long believed in the power of philanthropy to shape our world and enrich the lives of all people. It was the expression of this belief that led them in 2014 to establish Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation—a private, family foundation located in Sarasota, Florida.

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