Edna Laclair-pe­tit

Joins North Coun­try Hos­pi­tal

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS -

Spe­cial Col­lab­o­ra­tion Scott Wheeler New­port, VT

One of Or­leans County’s most re­spected so­cial work­ers has joined the staff of North Coun­try Hos­pi­tal in New­port. Edna (Tromb­ley) LaClair-Pe­tit be­gan work as the med­i­cal so­cial worker at two hos­pi­tal owned prac­tices – Com­mu­nity Med­i­cal As­so­ci­ates and Family Prac­tice of New­port.

The prac­tices are lo­cated in the new pri­mary care build­ing lo­cated on Med­i­cal Vil­lage Drive on the hos­pi­tal cam­pus.

“I have been wel­comed here with open arms,” Edna said. “Ev­ery­body has been great.”

Her new col­leagues are pleased to have such a re­spected so­cial worker come to work with them and for the pa­tients the two prac­tices serve.

“Edna has been a won­der­ful ad­di­tion to the com­mu­nity care team,” Karen Sil­vestri said. “It has made a huge dif­fer­ence in im­prov­ing pa­tient care by hav­ing her avail­able at the time of their visit. She has al­ready made many con­tacts with pa­tients who may have had dif­fi­culty re­ceiv­ing so­cial and psy­cho­log­i­cal ser­vices in the past. Her lo­ca­tion here has also greatly im­proved com­mu­ni­ca­tion with pri­mary care providers in de­vel­op­ing a plan of care spe­cific to the pa­tients needs. We are very for­tu­nate to have Edna as part of our med­i­cal home team.” Karen is the co-man­ager of Com­mu­nity Med­i­cal As­so­ci­ates.

Edna’s jour­ney to where she is to­day is a re­mark­able story. It has been a life of over­com­ing heartaches and chal­lenges while at the same time find­ing the sil­ver lin­ing in ev­ery cloud. She uses a com­bi­na­tion of her ed­u­ca­tion and life ex­pe­ri­ences to help other peo­ple.

Far from hav­ing an idyl­lic be­gin­ning to life, Edna en­tered the foster care sys­tem when she was five years old. She grew up in the sys­tem, but she said she re­fused to let her child­hood plight get her down, or at least keep her down.

“Even at a young age I al­ways knew I was go­ing to go to col­lege,” she said, think­ing back to her youth. “I had won­der­ful teach­ers who be­lieved in me even when I didn’t be­lieve in my­self.”

In high school when it came time to con­tem­plate what she was go­ing to do with the rest of her life, Edna said she knew she wanted to do some­thing to help other peo­ple. So­cial work seemed like a log­i­cal ca­reer path be­cause of the num­ber of peo­ple who helped her over­come many chal­lenges.

“We all have those dreams of chang­ing the world and I was one of them,” she said. “I wanted to make a dif­fer­ence.”

After grad­u­at­ing from North Coun­try Union High School in New­port in 1978, she en­rolled at East­ern Nazarene Col­lege in Quincy, Mas­sachusetts.

“I loved Boston,” she said. Then dur­ing the sum­mer break be­tween her fresh­man and sopho­more year she met Brian LaClair of Bar­ton, Ver­mont. The young cou­ple mar­ried in 1980 and set­tled in the Boston area so Edna could con­tinue her ed­u­ca­tion. She grad­u­ated with a bach­e­lor de­gree in so­cial work in 1982. Her first job out of col­lege was work­ing in a run­away shel­ter in the Boston area.

As much as she loved the Boston area, the call of the Kingdom even­tu­ally be­gan to draw the young cou­ple home.

After a short stint work­ing with peo­ple with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties in Keene, New Hamp­shire, they landed back in the North­east Kingdom in 1984. She ac­cepted a job at North­east Kingdom Men­tal Health (now North­east Kingdom Hu­man Ser­vices - NEKHS) in New­port.

The cou­ple had their first and only child, Joshua, in 1985. Quickly earn­ing an out­stand­ing rep­u­ta­tion in the men­tal health field, Edna de­cided to pur­sue her Masters De­gree in So­cial Work. She grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of Ver­mont in 1992, and in­terned at North Coun­try Hos­pi­tal and North­east Kingdom Men­tal Health

Edna was work­ing back at North­east Kingdom Men­tal Health as an out­pa­tient ther­a­pist co­or­di­na­tor when her world was rocked. Her phys­i­cally fit hus­band, who was a full-time mem­ber of the Ver­mont Na­tional Guard, died of a heart at­tack fol­low­ing a rou­tine run.

“My life took a big turn,” she said. She was left a young widow and the mother of a 10 year old boy who missed his fa­ther. For her own well-be­ing, and to care for her son, she left so­cial work for a time. That lit­tle boy has since fol­lowed his fa­ther’s foot­steps into the mil­i­tary. Now mar­ried, Josh is serv­ing in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.

In time Edna re­turned to so­cial work. In ad­di­tion to work­ing at NEKHS, she has also worked at Or­leans Es­sex VNA, and at a lo­cal nurs­ing home. She also found love again. In 2000 she mar­ried Gary Pe­tit of Coven­try.

While some peo­ple in the so­cial work field choose not to share chap­ters of their own lives to as­sist oth­ers through their chal­lenges, Edna isn’t one of those peo­ple. For ex­am­ple, be­cause of her youth in foster care she can un­der­stand the tri­als that foster chil­dren some­times face. And be­cause of the sud­den loss of her hus­band she knows all to well the emo­tions of grief and the de­pres- sion she suf­fered fol­low­ing his death. But she also knows first hand that chal­lenges can be over­come. “It has en­abled me to have more com­pas­sion for peo­ple who go through loss and de­pres­sion.”

An­other as­pect of her life that has helped her over­come her life chal­lenges is her deep Chris­tian faith.

Edna quickly set­tled into her job at North Coun­try. She cred­its part of that ease to the sup­port she has re­ceived from her col­leagues.

“I am part of the Core Com­mu­nity Health Team work­ing out of Family Prac­tice and Com­mu­nity Med­i­cal,” Edna said. “I work closely with Bar­bara Mutrux, Chronic Care Case Man­ager, and Bar­bara Grant, Di­eti­cian. Part of my job is to sup­port my co-work­ers in work­ing with pa­tients di­ag­nosed with three pri­mary chronic ill­nesses; di­a­betes, asthma, or hy­per­ten­sion. Barb Mutrux and I work very closely to­gether in pro­vid­ing sup­port to in­di­vid­u­als as they try to make healthy choices in their lives that will bring about im­proved health.”

Photo courtesy

Edna LaClair-Pe­tit look­ing happy to be join­ing the North Coun­try Hos­pi­tal, ready to help peo­ple.

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