Each year, during the month of March, we recognize Social Work Month. This year, the theme for Social Work Month is “Social Work Breaks Barriers.”
We can’t help but reflect on the many barriers we all face when it comes to caring for our patients, from staffing challenges to a complicated healthcare system and a lack of beds for those patients who need them. So many times, our social workers bear the brunt of those burdens—day in and day out looking for creative solutions to care for patients within a system that can sometimes be difficult to navigate.
Here at BWFH, social workers are master’s level licensed clinicians with wide-ranging and invaluable skill sets. Social workers are easily adaptable to the ever-changing healthcare landscape while remaining accountable to their Code of Ethics. They are found working as integral members of interdisciplinary teams throughout the hospital. They can be found within primary care practices; on the inpatient medical and surgical floors, ICU, inpatient Addiction Recovery Program and Emergency Department; in inpatient and outpatient psychiatry, the suboxone program, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), the Passageways Program and the Dual Diagnosis and Psychiatric Partial Hospital Programs. They can also be found coordinating Schwartz Center Rounds, serving on hospital-wide committees and supervising graduate-level social work interns.
They are trained to conduct comprehensive assessments that help them formulate the most appropriate and trauma-informed interventions. These may include evaluating for substance use disorders; providing therapeutic support around coping strategies for patients living with chronic illness or life-limiting illness and determining advanced directives; assessing for coping strategies and safety planning around intimate partner abuse or other significant traumas whether past or present; supporting patients in seeking concrete resource needs such as substance use treatment, mental health treatment, food and shelter insecurities and financial assistance programs; and empowering patients and families to problem solve around these very barriers they may struggle with in their daily lives.
It’s a big job even when resources are plentiful. But when resources are scarce, it’s near impossible to meet the needs of every patient and their family members. But we are proud to say our social workers never cease trying do just that. Whether it’s finding a way to step outside of their expected day-to-day responsibilities to help obtain a prescription for a patient in order to expedite a discharge, picking up a patient’s eyeglasses from their optometrist because they have no way of getting there but need them for continued care at rehab or finding a resource that helps remove a barrier such as refrigeration for a patient’s insulin when they have no refrigerator in their living space, we see our social workers going above and beyond every day to do all that they can. And while there are barriers they can never break, we could not be more impressed with how well our team functions within this system.
This Social Work Month, all we can say is “thank you!” Thank you for caring for our patients and thank you for being part of our amazing care team.
Cori Loescher, BSN, MM, RN, NEA-BC
Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care Services
Scott Schissel, MD, PhD
Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Medical Affairs
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