By Kim Steele Bartlett Express Editor Mable Barringer couldn’t have been more excited when she was recently named the recipient of Crossroads Hospice’s local Caring More Award. Barringer, a Bartlett resident for 12 years, was given the award March 22 for being “a social worker who goes above and beyond for his/her patients and community.” At the awards breakfast, Barringer received $500 to present to the National Kidney Foundation of West Tennessee, where she has served as executive director for 14 years. “I was really surprised and honored to get the award,” said Barringer. “In fact, I was taken back. I do my work naturally, not for reward, and it’s my passion. I’ve always had an innate desire to serve others. I always wanted to be a social worker, and I’ve never regretted my decision to pursue it.” The “Caring More” Award began in 2010 at two Crossroad Hospice locations. The company has hospices in Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Tennessee. This year, social workers at 10 hospices – including Memphis — were honored. Locally, social work and healthcare organizations nominated social workers with a proven track record in delivering patient care and sharing a commitment to the community. Five judges scored the nominees on professional accomplishments, advocacy for patients and community involvement. Jean Harrison, executive director of Crossroads Hospice in Memphis, said social workers like Barringer are the unsung heroes who connect patients with resources and counsel families. Harrison said Barringer exemplifies what it means to go the extra mile for people in West Tennessee facing or at risk for kidney disease. “Mable is phenomenal and beautiful in her field,” said Harrison. “She goes above and beyond, is extremely active and works hard to give back to the community. She is very motivated and passionate about what she does, and we are delighted to honor Mable for her work.” Barringer began her career as a social worker in 1970 in foster care and protective services at the Tennessee Department of Human Services. After 10 years, she moved to the University of Tennessee Rehabilitation Services, where she worked with patients who had strokes and post-polio syndrome. Later, she moved on to St. Joseph Hospital in Memphis. In 1989, Barringer got a job at the University of Tennessee Medical Group and Dialysis, where she stayed for 10 years. There, she discovered a passion for assisting dialysis patients and their families as they learned what to expect during their treatment and how to deal with it, as well as what resources were available for them. “I found that so many were being impacted by kidney disease,” said Barringer. “Dialysis is a lifestyle change, and the whole family has to accept it because the patient is going three times a week and spending the day there. It’s a big change for the patient and family, and they have to want to do it and get it in their heads that they can do it.” Barringer said she served on the board of the National Kidney Foundation of West Tennessee during her time at the dialysis center, and became convinced that awareness and prevention were keys to fighting kidney disease. Barringer campaigned to locally implement the national organization’s Kidney Early Evaluation Program, or KEEP. KEEP is a free health screening for people at increased risk of developing kidney disease. According to the National Kidney Foundation, 26 million Americans have chronic kidney disease, and millions more are at risk. Barringer said West Tennessee has 3,500 people on dialysis, with 2,400 of those located in Shelby County. People with diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as a family history of it or a family member with kidney problems, are at greater risk of developing chronic kidney disease. The test takes about an hour and includes blood pressure and weight measurements, as well as blood and urine tests for signs of diabetes and kidney disease. In 1999, the job of executive director opened up at the National Kidney Foundation of West Tennessee, and Barringer jumped at the opportunity to lead an organization she loved. Barringer said she was a good fit because she was on the board, knew the needs of social workers assisting patients with kidney disease and had become an advocate of prevention. “Most people who are at risk of kidney disease don’t realize it,” said Barringer, noting the symptoms are high blood pressure, diabetes, protein or blood in the urine, frequent or difficult urination, and swelling of the hands and feet. “They don’t pay attention to the symptoms. But it’s so important for people to know whether they’re at risk.” For more information about early screening, call 901-683-6185 or visit nkfwtn.org.