BHB´s Medical Social Workers Observe National Campaign

Bermuda Hospitals Board’s (BHB) medical social workers will mark national social work month by sponsoring an open house in the lobby of King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH) on March 31 from 10:00am to 2:00pm. The theme for this year’s awareness campaign, “Life’s Journey- Help Starts Here,” focuses on the role social workers play assisting people as they move through challenging stages of life. Members of the public are invited to come in and learn more about services offered by social workers.

A team of five medical social workers at KEMH helps patients with a range of care that focuses on advocacy, empowerment and education. In 2005, they handled over 1,500 cases. Discharge planning, arrangements for home and day care and specialized medical equipment are among services they provide.

Colleen English, professional practice leader at KEMH, often works with elderly patients who are ready to leave hospital and return home. “We direct patients to various agencies in the community and assure they have all needed services. This may include arranging Meals on Wheels, finding appropriate financial aid or obtaining medical supplies.”

Medical social workers provide counseling for individuals, families and patient groups. They teach coping skills and link clients with community resources. They evaluate home environments, assess individual needs, make referrals for financial assistance and educate about illness and its affect on families. Arranging for air ambulance service and treatment aboard is another important aspect of their work.

“We’d like the public to gain a better understanding of the range of services we offer and the role we play,” said Ms. English. “We provide people with information that improves options for them and their families.”

In addition to medical social workers at KEMH, six psychiatric social workers at Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute (MWI) offer clinical care. The MWI team works with clients from the substance abuse and learning disability programmes, as well as with clients from community mental health and child and adolescent services.

They provide long-term clinical support, often focusing on individual counseling and family therapy. Sharon Apopa, Programme Manager for Child and Adolescent Services, explains how members of this team assist clients. “We interview patients and families, compile case histories and interpret factors pertaining to mental illness. Our work is very collaborative and we liaise closely with relatives and other support services.”

Granville Russell, Programme Manager for Critical Care at KEMH said, “Medical social workers play a significant role in delivering quality care by connecting patients to a variety of resources in our community. Our team of professionals offer valuable assistance to hundreds of patients throughout the year.”

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