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!

UMMC Community Partnership with Building STEPS

Continuing his efforts to support the Baltimore community, President and CEO of UMMC and UMMC Midtown Campus, Jeffrey A. Rivest, lays out one of our partnership programs with Building STEPS and addresses the need for further action.

Read his message to all UMMC employees:

Dear Colleagues,

In my letter to you on Monday, I promised more information about how UMMC will play an essential role in the recovery and the rebuilding the fabric of our community after the events of last week. As one of Baltimore’s largest employers, we are deeply immersed in our community’s challenges and successes. We are very proud of the many community programs to which we contribute time, people, healthcare information and financial support — you can learn about many of those in our 2014 Community Benefits Report.

Today I’d like to highlight one particular program in which we are involved, Building STEPS, which exemplifies our commitment to Baltimore’s youth and helping them develop career ideas and opportunities for better lives. Last month, Building STEPS recognized UMMC for 15 years of partnership.

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Building STEPS (Science Technology and Educational Partnerships Inc.) is a non-profit built on one simple premise: a college education changes a person’s life. The multi-year program, supplementing students’ classroom learning, exposes bright, underserved high school students from Baltimore City and County to science and technology-based careers, and helps them excel in these fields where people of color are overwhelmingly underrepresented. Juniors visit businesses and institutions, such as UMMC, which rely on science and technology. Each seminar includes a site visit and guest speakers, providing exposure to a variety of professional opportunities. These seminars encourage the students to consider careers that might have otherwise seemed unimaginable.

A few more facts about Building STEPS:

  • More than 80 percent of Building STEPS students have earned or are on track to earn a college degree
  • Almost half of Building STEPS’ college graduates go on to earn an advanced degree
  • 85 percent of Building STEPS students are the first in their family to go to college.

In the last 4 years alone, UMMC has hosted nearly 70 Building STEPS students to get a glimpse of the life-changing care we provide to patients every day. We have employed 20 of these students as paid summer interns, and have joyfully watched many of them to go on to thrive in college, including a young man named Victor. Victor was an intern in our IT department back in the Summer of 2007, and continued working with us throughout his senior year of high school. Victor graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2013. In Victor’s words:

Through the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Career Development, I have learned from others that life is not about the adversities we go through, but about how we overcome those adversities and use them to build character that will positively impact others… Every day I strive to be an individual who makes a difference, no matter how small it is. I know that the University of Maryland Medical Center has and will continue to be a part in my effort to make a difference.”

We take pride in our participation in programs such as Building STEPS, as we open doors of inspiration and opportunity to the youth in our community. It is our responsibility as a major regional employer and civic leader to help wherever we can, and there is no better time than now to recommit ourselves to the important and fulfilling task of providing critical partnerships for job readiness, skill development, community health, and career opportunities. I am proud of what we have done, but there is much more to do to help our city and our neighbors.

I will continue to share information with you about our relationships with our community on a regular basis. Thank you again for all you do for UMMC and our City.

rivest_jeffreySincerely,

Jeffrey A. Rivest
President and Chief Executive Officer

Shock Trauma Survivor Stresses Need for Blood Donations, Holds Blood Drive

The last thing Katie Pohler remembers from June 28 is pedaling her bike down Route 450 South in the bike lane, heading to the Waterfront in Annapolis with her boyfriend. But then, it all goes black.

Katie and her boyfriend, Todd Green, were both hit from behind by an impaired driver, and had to be flown to the R Adams Crowley Shock Trauma Center.

While Todd was released that night, Katie spent nearly three weeks in Shock Trauma, undergoing multiple surgeries and recovering from her extensive list of injures. She broke her left leg and arm, and her right hand, collarbone and shoulder, and her trachea was crushed, among other injuries.

During her stay in Shock Trauma, Katie, 23, received multiple blood transfusions while fighting for her life, which is why her friends and family have decided to organize a blood drive in her honor.

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“Having had a transfusion, I understand the importance of donating blood to save lives. I am going to give blood any chance I get,” Katie says.

Coming up with the idea for the drive was Katie’s neighbor and family friend, Candy McCann Fontz. Fontz, who has hosted blood drives before, felt this was a perfect way to support the family during such a trying time and help others.

“I know the power of what my donation does because I have seen it,” Fontz says of why blood drives are so important.

When Fontz brought the idea up to Katie and her family, it was unanimous that this was a perfect way to honor Katie’s recovery.

“I feel wonderful about doing this blood drive because I want to give back. Everybody helped Katie and so I want to be able to help others.” Donna Pohler, Katie’s mother, says.

The blood drive will be held from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Glen Burnie Improvement Association, located at 19 S. Crain Highway, Glen Burnie. To schedule an appointment, head to www.redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code GBIA.

“It’s about giving back and educating people on why it is important to donate,” Donna says.

According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood and more than 41,000 blood donations are required every day. The need for blood can be for emergency cases or for patients with conditions that require multiple transfusions, such as cancer patients going through chemotherapy or patients diagnosed with sickle cell disease.

Katie is currently going to physical therapy three times a week, and getting stronger every day. Her recovery process will be a long road, and some injuries will have more lasting effects than others.

“I just had vocal cord surgery and my voice is a lot different from what it used to be, but I am just thankful to have a voice at all,” Katie says.

Katie’s stay at Shock Trauma saved her life, and she says she is grateful to all the doctors and nurses who helped aid in her recovery, and to those who have taken the time to donate blood.

“I just can’t stress it enough how important it is to give blood,” Katie says. “You never expect that one day you are going to be in that situation where you need it.”

For more information on the blood drive, head online to the event’s Facebook page set up or call the Red Cross directly at 1-800-733-2767 to set up an appointment.

UMMS “Spring Into a Healthy Summer” Event Serves Up a Dose of Wellness

By Kate Hancock , Public Affairs Intern, and Sharon Boston, Media Relations Manager, University of Maryland Medical System

Good staff pic newAs part of our commitment to giving back to our communities, the University of Maryland Medical System’s Community Benefits and Outreach Committee sprang into action with the “Spring Into a Healthy Summer” event June 14 in University Plaza Park, right across from the Medical Center.

Our dedicated health care providers started off the summer by providing hundreds of people with essential health information, free screenings and fun fitness activities.

Nearly 100 guests took advantage of free blood pressure and cholesterol checks, and many people expressed their excitement by playing with fitness equipment and sampling healthy foods at the Healthy Groove van.

Healthy Groove smaller

While some visitors were content to merely read about health and fitness, a few enthusiastic guests showed their newfound commitment to health with an invigorating line dance right in the middle of the park!

Blood pressure signing new

Magic 95.9 broadcast live from the event and radio personality Tim Watts interviewed UMMS health professionals on topics ranging from breast cancer to smoking cessation and childhood obesity

Thanks to this event, the UMMS team shared health and wellness information with hundreds of Marylanders who have a healthier start for summer 2013.

Real-Life Heroes Recognized at UMMC

By Malissa Carroll
Web Content Developer

Eight health care professionals from the University of Maryland Medical Center and the University of Maryland School of Medicine were recently recognized as finalists in the Daily Record’s 2011 Health Care Heroes awards program.

From a transplant surgeon who pioneered the use of single-incision laparoscopic kidney removal to benefit those selfless individuals who step forward to donate kidneys to their loved ones at the UMMC Transplant Center to an oncology nurse who rallied individuals in the UMMC community to knit and crochet more than 100 lap blankets for cancer patients this past holiday season, these individuals embody the spirit of the word “hero” and make a positive impact on the lives of others each day.

For more information about the finalists, please visit the Health Care Heroes Finalists page on the UMMC Web site, which features a complete list of the eight UMMC finalists, the reason each was nominated and a wealth of related links and information.