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The Meaning of Care Magazine

Methodist Social Workers Meet Patient Needs With Creativity and Compassion

Published: Dec. 6, 2021

This ride from the hospital was going to take more than gas money. Methodist social worker Heather Binns, CMSW, had a dilemma: A patient needed to make a 1,200-mile journey home, but a complex medical situation made commercial air travel impossible.

“It has been a long and complicated process,” Binns said.

But she did what all of the medical social workers at  Methodist do. She found a solution. 

When patients are in need or their families are feeling overwhelmed, Methodist’s social work team continually steps in with skill, creativity and compassion. 

“We’re there to say to them, ‘OK, I’ll figure out what we need and what we can do. You focus on your loved one or yourself. I’ll bear this burden. Don’t worry,’” said Bree Rochford, CMSW, a social worker in the Methodist Hospital Emergency Department (ED).

Social workers are available to every patient at all four hospital locations, with most carrying a caseload of up to 30 patients.  

Some lack health insurance, mental health care or money to pay for prescriptions. Forming safe discharge plans is a priority and involves exploring in-house and community resources to meet patient needs.

“In a way, we teach,” said social worker M’Lee Hasslinger, LMHP, who also covers the ED. “We take what we know and help alleviate some of their pain and overwhelmed feelings by teaching them about the resources available.”

Social workers’ days often spill into overtime. Being able to multitask, stay organized and investigate are essential.

“I’ve heard it described like this: Being in the mind of a medical social worker is like having 1,000 computer windows open at the same time. We have to be very fluid,” said social worker Christy Roubicek, LCSW, who works with ICU patients and their families.

Hasslinger described her co-workers as a family of their own, always able to turn to each other for help. They also turn to Methodist Hospital Foundation and its generous donors.

That’s what Binns did for her out-of-town patient. Working with the Foundation, she arranged a 1,200-mile flight home aboard an air ambulance. 

“We try to be very respectful of the Foundation’s dollars,” Binns said. “We only come to the Foundation when we have exhausted all of our other options.”

Beyond transportation needs, which typically involve a gas voucher or taxi ride, the Foundation’s Charitable Care Program assists qualifying patients with prescription costs, home medical equipment, lodging and more. 

“We could not do our job as well or as easily without the assistance of our donors,” said Acute Rehab and Short Stay social worker Michelle Peterson, LCSW. “With the help of our Foundation, we know our patients are set up for success at discharge.”

Even if they live 1,200 miles away.

To help support charitable care for Methodist patients, visit methodisthospitalfoundation.org/donate-today.

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