Living Legacy Foundation Donates iPhones to Bridge Program to Help Domestic Violence Victims

Bridge Program members with Tiffiny of the Living Legacy Foundation, who facilitated the donation.

A phone is something many of us take for granted. However, to victims and survivors of domestic violence, a phone serves as their only connection to support and services to help break the cycle. Cell phones often are a target during the escalation of domestic violence, and unfortunately, cost is often a limiting factor in victim and survivor access to phones when a new one is needed.

To help provide this lifeline to those in need, employees at the Living Legacy Foundation donated 26 iPhones to The Bridge Program at the University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center.

The Bridge Program is a domestic violence intervention program that operates 24/7. Clinical team members across Shock Trauma, UMMC, and the campus of University of Maryland, Baltimore screen every incoming patient for domestic violence. If someone is flagged, the Bridge Program hotline is called and a case manager will appear at the bedside within an hour. The Bridge Program then helps each client over time by providing assessment, crisis intervention, advocacy, education and counseling along with linking patients to the best resources in his or her community.

Members of the Center for Injury Prevention and Policy with representaitons from the Living Legacy Foundation

Oftentimes, clients of the Bridge Program will also use pay as you go phones, which are often thrown away after the minutes are used up. This presents a problem for the Bridge Program team when trying to contact the client to assist and follow up.

“For our domestic violence survivors, their phones serve as a lifeline to everything that’s important to them,” Ann Myers, RN, Program Coordinator, said. “Anything, like these iPhones, that help us connect to our survivors goes a very long way towards helping more survivors.”

In FY2017, the Bridge Program assisted 368 domestic violence survivors.

For more information or to contact the Bridge Program, please call 410-328-9833.

Shock Trauma’s Violence Intervention Specialists Help Break the Cycle and Change Lives After Violent Injury

It’s heard in the news cycle pretty often in Baltimore – the victim of a gunshot wound or stabbing is taken to Shock Trauma, where they survive their injuries.

However, it’s NOT often you hear about what happens to these survivors. How are they recovering from their injuries, mentally and emotionally? What are our teams doing to help them get access to resources to avoid violent injury again?

That’s where Leonard Spain and David Ross come in.  They’re both Violence Intervention Case Managers at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center.  Anytime someone suffers a violent injury and survives their injuries at Shock Trauma, they are seen by Spain and Ross.

Spain and Ross work to connect victims of violence with resources to get them on the path to success – including employment and schooling opportunities, mental health support, legal assistance and more.

Cut from the Same Cloth

Leonard Spain grew up in West Baltimore and, as a young man, was involved in the drug trade.

“The population that we serve – I was them. I sold drugs, I was a victim of gun violence and I spent time in prison,” Spain says.

That time in prison is what caused Spain to change his way of seeing things. When he arrived home, Spain realized the lack of resources available to help people like him get back on their feet.

He went to several career and job centers, attended job fairs and tried to do everything he could to stay out of trouble. After working a temp job for minimum wage for three years, Spain knew he wanted more for him and his daughter.

He enrolled at Sojourner Douglass College and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services. He always knew he wanted to get into violence intervention and came to Shock Trauma after an internship with the Baltimore City Health Department.

When approaching patients at the beside, Spain focuses on building a relationship with patients as the first step of starting the case management process.

“I try to let them know I am just like them, just not out on the streets anymore,” Spain says. “Sometimes I gotta pull my shirt up and say ‘I got bullet holes just like you.’”

Poetry in Motion

Ross, also a Baltimore native, is a spoken word artist by trade.  He was discovered by the Shock Trauma team after performing at an anti-violence rally at Mondawmin Mall.

At first, Ross was a volunteer with the hospital with another friend.  By commission, he would come and talk with victims of violence and worked with the peer support group.  He then rose to his current position.

Now, when Ross learns of a new potential client, he will get background information on social media and online court records before meeting with them at the bedside.

“I’ll have that information in the back of my mind, but my next step is to speak and have a conversation with them and get their perspective,” Ross says.

Ross says he likes to ask the clients what they would like to gain from the situation and what they see as barriers.

“It’s not an easy thing to get them to trust you, and I understand that completely,” Ross says. “We’re usually asking them to change major aspects of their lives – and it definitely has to be broken down so we can work on one thing at a time.”

Usually, Ross starts with helping his clients get registered for health insurance so they can get their medication and get healthy. Next, they tackle employment. If it’s a criminal record holding the client back, they work to see if anything can be expunged. If it’s the lack of formal education, he works to get them in a GED class to receive a high school diploma at the least.

“I try to remove the obstacles to get them from point A to B,” Ross says. “Then, once we get them to point B, we see what other obstacles we can remove to get them to C.”

Spain and Ross both acknowledge that they are asking their clients to make massive life changes with not many resources, but overall, know it’s worth the trouble in the long run.

Spain is getting his Master’s in Conflict Resolution in University of Baltimore, and Ross is working towards his Master’s in Social Work at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Learn more about Shock Trauma Center’s for Injury Prevention and Policy.

Birthday Surprise Lifts Spirits of Long-Term Cardiovascular Patient

Team members celebrate with Mr. Boyd

When a hospital stay extends past six months, it can be hard to keep a patient thinking positively. Especially so on special days like birthdays. So, when Mr. Boyd, who has been in University of Maryland Medical Center’s in-patient Cardiac Progressive Care Unit for more than 250 days, had a birthday coming up, the unit staff knew they wanted to do something special.

The team planned a surprise birthday party for weeks, raising money amongst themselves for decorations, food, and of course, a birthday cake. They also invited Mr. Boyd’s friends and family to join in the party.

On the day of the surprise party, the interdisciplinary team decked out the conference room with tropical-themed décor. They even put together a photo booth area. Social worker Sarah Downs explains, “We put together a photo booth with props and a background. I brought a Polaroid camera to take instant photos so we can put together a scrapbook for Mr. Boyd with pages from each of the team members.”

The team came together to purchase more gifts for Mr. Boyd, including a foot pedal exercise bike and a tablet; items that will keep him busy and active while in the hospital.

Mr. Boyd enters the party completely surprised!

After all the planning, the only thing left was to get Mr. Boyd to the conference room without ruining the surprise. Under the ruse that they were taking him on a walk outside, unit nurses brought Mr. Boyd to the conference room. Upon seeing everyone gathered in the room decorated for his birthday, he was truly blown away, repeating, “They got me good, they all got me!”

After the initial surprise, Mr. Boyd took pictures with the care team and his friends and family. He remarked, “Thank you to the team. They are all really special to me.”

Then, he began to list and point to the team members that he feels close to, but it became clear that he would end up listing everyone in the room. The surprise was filled with emotion, but the scene quickly became that of a party with excited chatter, laughter, and friends enjoying each other’s company.

By throwing this surprise party, the Cardiac Progressive Care Unit far surpassed expectations for a patient they have formed a special bond with. As interim nurse manager Julie Landon puts it, “He has really become a part of the family.”

Celebrating Unsung Superheroes: Social Workers

By: Allie Ondrejcak, Communications Intern

“Never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the health and happiness of another person or an animal is at stake. The punishments of the society are small compared to the damage we inflict on our soul when we look the other way and do nothing.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

The profession of social work follows this mission: enhance human well-being and help people meet their basic human needs—particularly the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed or living in poverty. At the University of Maryland Medical Center, this population is served by the Department of Social Work. The Department helps patients with complex psychosocial needs such as: lack of resources, limited family support, communication barriers or maladjustment to illness. The Department of Social Work believes that recognizing the relationship between social and emotional factors is an important aspect of helping patients. And, because they are aware of the relationship, they are able to understand how it impacts illness.social-work-7

Here at UMMC, social work has been an integral part of the care system since the early 20th century! The first Department of Social Work at the University Hospital was established in 1919. At that time the Department saw every patient who came to the hospital as they were admitted and they provided follow-up and home visits to all patients after discharge. These measures helped to prevent recurrence of illness and readmission to the hospital. Over the years, the Department grew to include teaching programs, casework discussions, community outreach and hospital-wide policies and procedures. Today, the Department is committed to promoting education, professional development and research, all of which are part of the commitment to excellence in medical social work. The Department of Social Work also oversees Palliative Care, Pastoral Care Services and the Patient Advocacy Department at UMMC.

I spoke with UMMC’s Social Work Manager, Catherine Miller, LCSW-C, and asked her to give me a closer look at the department. Here is an overview of what they do and why they are special:

  • Social workers at UMMC start their days at 9:00AM—often much earlier—with Interdisciplinary Rounds (social workers, doctors and nurses use their clinical expertise to coordinate patient care and discuss patients’ discharge). During these rounds, social workers meet with patients and families to prepare for discharge and to assess psychosocial barriers for a patient’s discharge. Oftentimes, social workers work with the outpatient population as well.
  • In addition to the complex needs of patients in hospitals and the psychological impact of hospitalization and injury, medical social workers have to know about all other facets of social work, such as family, community and child social work. These professionals have to work extremely fast to build relationships with patients because they may only get to meet with them a few times, sometimes less!

Ms. Miller explained that being a social worker at UMMC is very rewarding because they are able to help patients and family work through the most important events in their lives—from the joys of birth to the sorrows of death.

The Department is full of dedicated professionals but Ms. Miller wants to recognize a few “shining stars!”

  • Iris Smith—retiring in March after 45 YEARS of Social Work service at UMMC!
    • She was here when the first patient with HIV was treated at UMMC
    • Smith also was here during the Civil Rights movement
  • Justin Perry, Shannon Mullins and Crystal Johnson who have been vital in assisting with the Department’s restructuring with Care Management.
  • Kathy Klein, Chelsea Needle and Carlyn Mast, three social workers who worked very hard to plan the department’s first Social Work Month and organized an information booth at the hospital.

These amazing staff members are part of an equally amazing team. I know first-hand that social workers are passionate, committed and often underappreciated professionals. Social work is dear to my heart because my sister, a licensed clinical social worker, has dedicated her life to helping those who need it most. My sUM_School_SocialWork_RGB_webister earned her degree from the University of Maryland School of Social Work and has worked as a child and family therapist for a non-profit organization and as a Child Protective Services agent. She is now a Behavioral Health Case Manager for a hospital and works with their Outpatient Program. The passion she has for helping those who are too vulnerable to help themselves and her commitment to fairness and justice is so apparent. These values are in the hearts of all dedicated social workers and the world needs more people like this! Our Social Workers here at UMMC exemplify these traits every day in their work with patients and families.

You can reach the UMMC Department of Social Work at 410-328-6700 their hours of operation are Monday-Friday, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm. The Department also provides after-hour referrals, weekend in-house coverage in Shock Trauma and both the Adult and Pediatric Emergency Departments and on-call service.

Thank you to all social workers and a special thank you to our very own social workers at UMMC for all that you do! The world is a better place because of you!