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