You Make a Difference

By Cathy Massaro MSW, CCM

Case Management Education and Compliance Manager, MPU

Achieving the professional title of social worker comes after at least 6 years of higher education. After these years of grueling classroom work and a usually unpaid internship, you are uniquely qualified to hand out bus passes in an acute care institution. You will have completed a very extensive assessment of the patient after which you determined that giving a discharged patient a bus pass to get home is more cost effective than keeping them in the hospital. Seasoned social workers know this because we have been in your shoes!

It is nearing the end of your shift and your thoughts wander to getting home  and propping your shoeless feet up onto the couch and sinking mindlessly into quiet. But before your thoughts can become reality, you get the call from your unit. The patient who you spoke with 6 hours ago and who had no discharge needs suddenly upon hearing the word “discharge”, is no longer able to leave the hospital because they lack transportation. Feel free to insert, lack of money for medications, do not have a key to their home, no food in the home, no one is at home, etc. etc. etc. You know the excuses so before you can sink into your comfy couch, you reach for the bus pass.

You start to wonder, is this what I went to graduate school  to do? You begin to feel minimized. However before you throw in the towel and resign yourself to a life of bus passes and medication vouchers think about the rest of your day.

The woman who has been a hospital frequent flier due to abuse at the fists of her spouse. You were finally successful in convincing her to accept safety at a shelter instead of going back home.

The child who has been diagnosed with a rare terminal disease.  You were able to facilitate transfer to the children’s hospital with more inclusive services available to assist the devastated parents as well as give the child a glimpse of hope.

The elderly woman who came from a nursing center who lost her bed hold due to the lengthy hospitalization. You were able to get her back   “home” where she had been living for 3 years by persuading the facility administrator do the right thing and take care of the patient first.

The man who lost his job and with it lost his insurance resulting in him having to choose between rent and medication. You were able to connect him to a medication assistance program to ease that worry and keep him on his medications.

The young man who was admitted to the hospital for a drug overdose who confided in you he has been experiencing scary thoughts about harming others. You were able to get him connected with psychiatric services including follow up outpatient care and medication assistance.

The husband you sat with for what seemed hours as he signed the removal of life support papers for his wife of 62 years after she suffered a massive stroke resulting in no brain activity or chance of returning to a meaningful quality of life. You gave him compassion and support for the most difficult decision of his life.

The Veteran suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder exacerbated by a head injury. You were able to get him into a residential setting equipped to deal with his diagnosis and behaviors while keeping him safe and providing him with support towards recovery.

This has been your day. A day filled with touching the lives of many and making a difference. Sometimes it is hard accept that no one calls a social worker for something good. However, being a social worker means you provide the best and most compassionate “good” (i.e.; solutions) you can from some of the worst and most complicated   situations that are assigned to you.

Those of us watching you go through every day are in awe and would like to say thank you and Happy Social Worker’s Month. Now go enjoy your couch!

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