They researched the idea of adding social services to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and petitioned the board to do so. Their hope became reality. One social worker was hired, and according to the 1911 Hospital Annual Report, “the work of her has been deemed efficient and valuable.”
For 100 years, the Department of Social Work had added “efficient and valuable” services to the excellent medical care patients receive at CHOP. There are now more than 90 dedicated, master’s-trained social workers who serve as critical members of the care team in medical specialties across the Hospital.
While they may use computers and cellphones and help families who have come to CHOP from across the country and from around the world in addition to the tristate area, at the core, today’s social workers strive to fulfill the same mission laid out a in a list of “objectives” from 1911:
Social workers continue to be the link that connects patients and families to community resources such as government services and support groups, and to sources of help within Children’s Hospital such as Child Life, Care Coordination, Case Management and Psychology.
Social work support might be a call to a child’s school to arrange for a smooth transition as a child returns after cancer treatment. It could be removing transportation barriers so children can get to the Hospital for treatment and follow-up appointments. It may be counseling family members to help them adjust to their child’s hospitalization, chronic condition or lifelong disability. It can be as simple as obtaining concrete financial supports for family members who stay for weeks at the Hospital while their child is an inpatient or as complicated as coordinating transitions back to the community by arranging for home modifications or even new housing so a child who requires special medical equipment can go home safely.
Most importantly, over the last 100 years, CHOP social workers have sat with tens of thousands of families facing difficult diagnoses and challenging circumstances and told them: You can handle this, and I’m here to help.
Learn more about social work at CHOP.
While Samad, 10, was waiting for a kidney transplant, social worker Caryle Glah, M.S.W., L.S.W., supported him and his family by connecting them to charities that helped pay utility bills and arranging for fun — and distracting — activities.
As an integral part of Samad’s care team, Glah arranged for services such as medical transportation from his home to CHOP and for a tutor to help him keep up with homework. Samad’s mother, Dionne Stevenson, discusses his post-transplant progress with nephrologist Sandy Amaral, M.D., M.P.H.
Glah made arrangements so Samad could attend summer camp (completed with scheduled dialysis treatments), enjoy a dinner cruise on the Delaware River and go to an Eagles game, complete with a chance to meet some of the players.