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Kudos to Hospital Social Workers: How Our Collaboration Connects Cancer Patients to Financial Support

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As National Social Work Month comes to a close, we are putting our hands together to applaud the hospital social workers who collaborate closely with our Resource Navigators. Together, we reach families facing cancer with vital financial support.

What’s more, this year’s honorary month has brought about an unwanted but unique opportunity to highlight the work of medical professionals as the world comes to grips with the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Families that are already facing cancer now have added physical, emotional, and financial worries as the pandemic continues to spread. Immunocompromised patients face the fear of increased risk, while families manage limited hospital visitations and other precautionary measures. The long list of financial burdens will only grow: unemployment or hours cut at work, travel restrictions, and the unexpected increase of weekly expenses for families who now have their children home while school is canceled.

It’s in these times of uncertainty that we’re here to provide clarity and comfort. Now more than ever, hospital social workers and Family Reach can spring into action to serve as a financial lifeline for families facing cancer.

A vital collaboration

The collaboration between Family Reach’s Resource Navigators and hospital social workers is an essential component to reaching families with our financial services. Hospital social workers are on the frontlines, connecting families facing financial hardship to Family Reach.

After identifying families in need, social workers submit grant request applications and financial needs assessments which my fellow Resource Navigators and I will review. Together with the social workers, we form concrete solutions and piece together a long-term financial plan that puts families at ease so they can focus on their health.

Thanks to social workers, we’re able to explore feasible options for thousands of families, such as identifying the possibility of setting up payment plans, providing alternative and affordable forms of transportation, or even connecting them to a pro-bono Certified Financial Planner™ through Family Reach’s Financial Planning for Cancer program.

Collaboration in action

Communication is key to our collaboration with social workers, much like a time when a hospital social worker and I had to determine the most efficient payment for a family to secure their new apartment. Several phone calls to the leasing department to navigate available payment options wouldn’t have been possible without the support and advocacy of the hospital social worker.

Similar to my experience, my fellow Resource Navigators have many stories of their own joint efforts with hospital social workers.

Alicia, for example, appreciates when hospital social workers speak out about the family’s needs, as these close connections ensures she’ll receive the whole picture. From there, they can work together to narrow down specific resources that will help each family’s unique situation.

When a family’s primary and secondary insurance was not able to cover anything, Stephanie and the hospital social worker brainstormed creative ideas to offset the necessary medical expense. Through their collaboration, they shared a mutual understanding of not just providing monetary assistance but also improving the patient’s quality of life.

Devin emphasized how essential it is to work with social workers in the hospital as they are the experts on the families, especially as their personal face-to-face relationship makes a world of difference. And Anya highlighted the close collaboration she, Devin, and another hospital social worker had as they supported a family who was several months behind on mortgage payments and facing the daunting reality of foreclosure. They came up with a plan and drew collective support from multiple organizations. Teamwork really makes the dream work, as they all did just that in preventing foreclosure and helping the family get back on track with their housing payments.

Our initial conversations with patients often start with a sigh of exasperation and hopelessness, but they end with a sigh of relief knowing that someone is there to help – whether it’s over the phone or on the hospital floor. Our work is never easy, but it’s worth it. More importantly, our work is never over — not until families across the country are free from the financial burden that accompanies cancer. We’re able to keep moving forward because of the selfless dedication of social workers.

Endless appreciation

I know that I can speak on behalf of all Resource Navigators at Family Reach in expressing my sincere gratitude and appreciation for hospital social workers this month and always.

At the end of the day, we all have the same goal in mind: caring for our patients. Our work starts with the attention and care of a social worker advocating for a family in need as they seek options and information for their patients. It ends with families being able to focus their attention and energy on their illness, rather than figuring out their financial future.

I am proud that our organization has become a trusted resource for hospital social workers across the country. Each day, thanks to their efforts, I’m able to connect dozens of families to the financial relief that they so desperately need and deserve.

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At the end of the day, we all have the same goal in mind:

caring for our patients.

caring for our patients.

At the end of the day, we all have the same goal in mind: 
caring for our patients.

Continuing in a COVID-19 world

Our collaboration with hospital social workers is what our families will come to rely on most as we look to continue serving patients during this uncertain time. The day-to-day stress of working in a hospital will become even more frantic, and medical care teams across the world need our support now more than ever — just as our families do.

At Family Reach, helping families make it to the other side of cancer is always priority one. Our collaboration with hospital social workers will continue, allowing us to meet families where they’re at and provide them with support to overcome the unexpected and uncertain financial toll of cancer.

Please consider a donation to the Family Reach COVID-19 Emergency Fund so we can continue providing our financial services to all families, including those most affected by these uncertain times.

courtney-mchugh
Courtney McHugh
Resource Navigator • Family Reach Team

A pragmatic but hopeful soul with an appreciation for people and her place in the world, Courtney helps connect families in need with resources and relief. As a licensed social worker and Resource Navigator at Family Reach, her work is guided by compassion for others and a sense of shared humanity.

Read more from Courtney

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