Making a Difference Everyday

Making a Difference Everyday

Bernadette flips through a stack of warm papers she just picked up from the office printer. There are urgent requests for basic support and questions filled with worry. 

As COVID-19 spreads, her stack has been getting larger as more and more families are in need. There are more requests for clothing and food, but also mental health support for parents. She adeptly navigates the tangled web of community providers and nonprofits to secure whatever her families need: food, diapers, and transportation. Her team makes sure that “no baby is left behind.

The Ellis Medicine pediatric clinic hums with activity despite disruptions COVID-19 has brought to every aspect of daily life. It’s business as usual, with a twist.

They schedule sick visits in the morning and well visits in the afternoon. While babies and toddlers still get their vaccinations, physicals, and screenings, parents are also able to talk about their fears and worries. Each appointment brings a new opportunity for Bernadette to connect families to what they need, and to offer support and hope amid the crisis.

For Bernadette, HealthySteps isn’t just about “cuddling bouncing babies and showing parents how to bond with newborns. It’s about providing wraparound services for families in need. Our families are in need all year round, pandemic or no pandemic.”

Later, she is on the phone because another family can’t find baby formula at the store. Bernadette has a solution for that.

The parent’s relief is a physical lift for Bernadette. These small moments build trust and make the exhausting days all worth it; they buoy her motivation to support families, no matter what. With every medication accessed, every well-child visit scheduled, Bernadette sends out the message again and again that families are not alone. 


Bernadette McDaniel, MSW is a HealthySteps Specialist, HealthySteps National Ambassador, and is the recipient of a 2021 Bright Lights award from the New York State Association for Infant Mental Health.

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