|What does 24/7 Really Mean?|
Quite literally it means that this charity can be reached by all UVA Social Workers by simply picking up the phone. Not just during normal day time hours, but before and after midnight,
seven (7) days a week. It means that the few social workers who have night duty, but especially in the Emergency Department (ED), have the security of knowing that we expect to be called for temporary assistance as needed.
Case in Point ... regarding shelter
When a patient was released following eye surgery, the waiting period happened to push past midnight. The patient, along with a spouse, could not drive with this impaired eye condition. The spouse (over 80) was not eligible to drive their car the two hours back home. The social worker checked with UVA Hospitality House, even though it was very late, but every room was filled.
Our phone rang at about 12:30 AM. The social worker said, "I have this situation, and their age coupled with the fact that they simply can't afford a hotel room, is leaving me without options." Of course, there was ONE option, and she had me on the line. A hotel room was secured in about ten minutes and the couple was placed in a taxi. Their car remained in the garage.
Access is the Key and Immediacy Critical
On every social worker computer is a form entitled, "Lodging Authorization." When a social worker makes contact, he or she will have the form already displayed in front of them. The IHS contact will also have a form. The social worker will relate a situation in progress, and with permission of the patient or family member, receive permission to have IHS seek to secure a hotel room, or perhaps pay for lodging in Hospitality House. The patient or caregiver will not know exactly who is assisting them. The social worker will have already screened and approved that the person(s) is indeed eligible to receive assistance.
IHS will then initiate calls to several hotels which have worked with us for the last four years. We are familiar to all desk clerks in several very generous lodging establishments. The desk clerk will simply ask for name, address, length of stay, and provide a reservation number. Then - the IHS contact will fax a completed reservation form to the hotel guaranteeing payment, and call the social worker to indicate that the room is ready. Mission accomplished until next call.
Yes ... it's a Good Working System ...
However, it is only without any cost to those being assisted. This charity's 24/7 volunteers are not paid. In fact, we are also one of the largest annual donors to assist with expenses. The real challenge is to make sure that every month without fail that all hotel bills are tabulated and paid in a timely manner.
The ability to be a Constant Servant for the Least Able
Our record of excellence for paying our bills at selected hotels depends on individual donations, Commonwealth of Virginia (CVC) annual payroll deductions from state workers, and a continuing need for grants to sustain a never-ending need. It is now time to expand and ask clubs, businesses, schools, churches and more individuals to consider us in their outreach programs.
REMEMBER - IHS is providing UVA Social Workers the most immediate response for assistance when no other source is available. NO OTHER AGENCY, DEPARTMENT, CHARITY, CHURCH, GROUP OR INDIVIDUAL WITH MEANS HAD EVER OFFERED TO MAKE THIS A REALITY. NOW that the charity has proven itself for four(4) years as that 24/7 contact, perhaps each of the entities mentioned would like to review their giving habits, perhaps even become an annual sponsor, and allow us to sustain. We could use the funds ... one hotel room and a full-day meal packet at a time.
Sincerely ... Thomas Wade Clegg III