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Care Services Team Spotlight: Michelle McKenzie

ALS social worker

ALS United Greater New York’s Care Service Team has some of the most caring and experienced local staff working with those living with ALS in the greater New York region. Our local teams have a combined 130 years of working experience at our organization! Michelle McKenzie, the Care Services Coordinator for NYC, is among our incredible staff shining as a beacon of compassion and expertise.

For the past eight years, Michelle McKenzie has served as the Care Services Coordinator for ALS United Greater New York (formerly known as ALS Association Greater New York). Originally hailing from Point Pleasant, New Jersey, she moved to New York to pursue her master’s degree in social work. With 26 years of experience as a medical social worker, Michelle has worked with individuals facing HIV/AIDS, severe mental illness, and various long-term illnesses, and later in concierge medicine. Her transition to working with ALS patients stemmed from a desire to apply her education and skills in a more personally meaningful and impactful setting, making a difference in the lives of the population she serves.

In her role as a social worker at ALS United Greater New York, Michelle McKenzie collaborates with a team of nurses and fellow social workers. Together, they ensure that individuals living with ALS are informed about the ALS multidisciplinary clinics and the services they offer. Michelle also keeps them updated on the latest research developments and facilitates various educational and open discussion support groups. Through leading these groups, she creates an environment where patients and caregivers can share their experiences, allowing her to build connections, understand evolving needs, and link them with others going through similar challenges.

Michelle acknowledges the immense challenge that comes with receiving a diagnosis of ALS, both for the patients and their loved ones. Often asked by many “How can you continue to do what you do?” she responds, “I feel that I can make a difference.” Leveraging her extensive knowledge of the disease, Michelle offers counseling to help individuals cope with the emotional impact of a fatal diagnosis and navigate the various losses associated with the progression of ALS. With empathy, she assists in addressing complexities related to employment, insurance, and benefits, aiming to support patients in maintaining independence for as long as possible.

Michelle’s commitment doesn’t end with the passing of a loved one; she continues to provide support through bereavement groups. These gatherings foster a unique bond among those grieving, as they share their versions of the ALS story. Michelle finds profound meaning in facilitating these groups, creating a nurturing space for families to grieve collectively.

Over the past eight years, Michelle has encountered incredible individuals facing one of the most challenging experiences of their lives. She hopes to continue providing compassionate assistance to ALS patients and their families until a cure for ALS is found. Outside of her impactful work, Michelle resides in Manhattan with her husband and three children, embodying the dedication and compassion that define her role at ALS United Greater New York.

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