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Importance of Social Workers at HOI

Importance of Social Workers at HOI

Medical social workers serve the primary role of discharge planning for patients at Hoag Orthopedic Institute (HOI). They understand the vulnerable nature of hospitalization and have the privilege of helping patients and their families as they navigate through difficult decisions that may impact their recovery. They possess an intimate knowledge of the health care system and the insurance industry to help patients understand their benefits and medical coverage. Areas that our social workers often assist with include but are not limited to providing resources on placement options, caregiving, medical equipment, psychotherapy, supportive counseling, and social support. Our HOI social work team shares some of their valuable insights here:

Q. What inspired you to select medical social work as your profession?

A. My first interaction with a social worker was in a hospital setting, when my dad was diagnosed with liver cancer and was told he needed a liver transplant. Our social worker supported us through medically complex procedures and navigating the healthcare system. Although our time with the social worker was brief, she left an imprint on my heart to pursue a career in medical social work. Fast forward to now, my dad is a post liver transplant recipient of 13 years and is thriving and I am a proud social worker at HOI.

Q. What are the common challenges that you face when helping to coordinate discharge plans?

A. Living alone with no help can be challenging for patients who need to plan for a surgical recovery. Many insurances do not take this into consideration when seeking coverage for care beyond a hospital stay. That is why we believe discharge planning begins even before patients come to the hospital. We can connect with patients preoperatively to brainstorm on how to best utilize their support systems. We encourage them to arrange for help through local family members, set up private caregivers, or discuss options for temporary placement. If finances and transportation are limiting factors, we also discuss alternative resources in the community such as meal delivery programs. senior centers, and transport services if needed.

Q. What are some important details to consider when planning for a surgical recovery?

A. Preparing your home and considering how you will navigate simple tasks such as using a toilet, taking a shower, going up and down stairs, and preparing meals are areas that you will need to plan for. It is ideal to arrange for someone to help you during the first week of discharging home. This would be the best time to call on your friends and family who owe you favors! Gather your network of friends to stay with you or check in on you frequently. Watch pre-op videos and attend the pre-op classes to help you prepare for what to expect. Plan for transportation to and from physical therapy if needed. Borrow or purchase medical equipment such as walkers, commodes, shower chairs if needed.

Q. What can we expect when we meet with a social worker in the HOI hospital?

A. The social worker will meet with you postoperatively to review your discharge plan and ensure that it meets the needs of your recovery. We coordinate medical equipment and home services if medically necessary. We work as your advocate to collaborate with the medical team and ensure that you and your family feel confident about your discharge plan when it is time to go home.

We appreciate all that our social workers do to ensure that our patients receive the best in specialized orthopedic, spine and sports medicine care.

Photo Left to Right: Lisa Bello, LCSW, Marcia Sainick, LCSW, Minnie Enriquez, MSW, Julie Le, LCSW and Charlene Lau, LCSW.