Friday, October 28, 2011

Grateful for good news!

I am so hungry for some good news to appear on the front pages of the two major newspapers in the Greater Boston area. Anything will do. Maybe the good news is being covered elsewhere; maybe I am reading the wrong newspapers? The other day when I had had enough I turned to read some of my emails and low and behold, there was the gold. It was from a social worker who was writing about an extraordinary experience she and her aging Dad had had with a local social worker whose unstoppable advocacy actions took her breath away.  Some of the names of the organizations and people in the following have been changed because I want to focus on the exceptionally powerful positive actions of one of our own rather than on what appears to be negative actions of the organizations in the story.  What follows is our front page story—a story of simple greatness, positive energy and superlative professional actions. Here is the email letter we received

‘Dear NASW,

I am writing to tell you about a clinical social worker, at UMASS Memorial University Campus in Worcester.  My father had a stroke in early July and was hospitalized at UMASS where he received excellent care by the stroke team.  He had ‘Company X’ insurance.

In mid- August, once my Dad’s medical condition had stabilized, the stroke team recommended moving him to an acute rehabilitation facility.  The team believed that acute rehab of 3-4 hours per day was the course of treatment to pursue for his best possible recovery.

The Clinical Social Worker was the case manager assigned to my Dad for discharge planning.  We discussed which acute rehab facility would be best and the social worker went to work preparing the necessary paperwork to get my Dad moved to the rehabilitation facility. 

Despite the stroke team's unanimous recommendation for acute rehab the insurer denied the transfer and proposed moving my Dad elsewhere.  The Clinical Social Worker asked if we wanted to appeal the insurer’s decision and we agreed emphatically.  She worked tirelessly to get the information needed to review the medical facts in my Dad’s case but to no avail. The insurer never even reviewed the medical record in this case.

I hired an attorney to work with us and with our Clinical Social Worker to get a reversal of the denial. After several phone calls and emails, late on a Friday afternoon, the insurer reversed the denial and my Dad was sent to the facility we had wanted to get the medical treatment he needed and the care his medical team prescribed.

I write this to let you and your organization know of the exemplary work that this individual did for my Dad and my family at a very stressful and critical juncture in his medical treatment.  This person is a tenacious advocate for her patients and a credit to your profession.  We were very lucky to have her working with us.’ The social worker is Heather Miller, LICSW.

A grateful client’

Now, that is great news!

Carol Trust

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Leading From Possibility

The ‘Occupy’ phenomenon is growing across the nation.  A few blocks from the Chapter office, Dewey Square is filled with individuals that are calling our attention to what they see as pervasive social and economic inequities that shame our wonderful country and state.  I want to share with you the statement that the MA Chapter has released on the ‘Occupy Boston’ event.  We are in support of the occupation as it retains its peaceful context.  Below is the Chapter’s statement.
NASW MA Chapter's Statement in Support of Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Boston
As an organization that is committed to social and economic justice and unimpeded access to services for all, NASW-MA Chapter supports the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Boston protests. These protests are shining a light on the exacerbated income and social inequality that has gripped the nation in recent years. America’s “new economy” is a tale of skewed wealth and income. The new economy generates extraordinary riches for the few, but creates declining wages, rising debt, and the risk of deep and persistent poverty for many. 

Social Workers know that joblessness and economic insecurity contribute to the incidence of mental illness, family violence, suicide, substance abuse, crime, and diminished capacity for healthy family and community functioning. It is this knowledge and experience that gives the social work profession a special responsibility to advocate for income, employment, and social support policies that promote the economic justice and social well-being of all members of society and why NASW-MA Chapter has always been on the forefront of progressive taxation campaigns in the commonwealth. NASW-MA Chapter supports social, economic, and political actions to end poverty and the vast inequalities in wealth and income, to which protestors at “Occupy” events are so effectively drawing the country’s attention. 

NASW-MA Chapter urges its membership to raise awareness about and take part in the Occupy Boston peaceful protests, as social workers see fit.

 Betty Morningstar,PhD, LICSW, President, and
Carol J. Trust, LICSW, Executive Director

Monday, October 3, 2011

Leading From Possibility


This morning I attended the monthly meeting of the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) Advisory Council, with one of our MSW Interns from Salem State University.  This is the group that is advising the Department of Mental Health on the implementation plan of the Rosie D. case outcome. All the professional mental health societies and trade organizations as well specialty MD groups, advocacy groups and client consumer groups, Executive Office of Health and Human Service Agencies, hospitals serving children and others concerned with Mental Health Issues and services related to children.  It was a big group as it always is.  These are the folks who not only care about the mental health services provided to children, but are really focused on the barriers standing in the way of delivering these services. And there are many that seem to be unintentional- the consequence of addressing a complex set of issues, services and financial restraints.

As we started reviewing what are mission was, our accomplishments, our authority, our power (or lack of), we noted all the other initiatives that were occurring at the same time with similar missions:  There is: the CANS project that zeros in on providing ‘wrap around services’ for children; the Behavioral Health/Primary Care Integration Group, which is focuses on just what the title says; the state Mental Health Planning  Council which oversees mental health services to kids and adults; the Department of Child and Family Services Advisory Council, which focuses on the services provided to DCF families and Children; the group that; the Office of the Child Advocate; the group that is reviewing the Governor’s proposal to restructure the provision of state services to children;  and several others.

As we started listing all the groups, we saw that we really needed to get clear about our own focus and to coordinate these efforts of well informed, dedicated, and committed mental health individuals caring about the mental, social and educational health of our children. Our next meeting will focus on this question. As we go through this process, I remind myself that many good people care tremendously about providing services to our children and that there are many routes to follow-none are simple or clear cut, just like most of life.  We need to ‘be with’ the lack of clarity as we sort it all out. The ambiguity is clear.

Carol J. Trust