The last time I checked the Social Work roster at UVA Medical Center, there were sixty-one (61)
inpatient and outpatient Social Workers diligently working to assist patients and their families with problem-solving. The range of intimate involvement with patients is truly broad, and it is not necessarily isolated to a patient's case file after entry into the Hospital, or after check-out.
Sometimes it is worth repeating why this totally independent public charity was formed
As a volunteer mostly overnight Chaplain at UVA Medical Center from 2006 - 2009, Rev. Elisheva Clegg quickly recognized that treatment for all-comers was of the highest quality; however, among the indigent and underfunded patients there were stressful challenges, especially for those who were forced to travel extremely long distances to this state discount hospital for their care. Very few within this giant teaching hospital, except those Social Workers assigned to handle individual cases, were confronted with the knowledge that their severely underfunded patients with critical situations must worry not only with their life-threatening condition, but also how to pay for transport to and from Charlottesville; where to secure lodging until the appointment/follow-up after lab work for a few days; where to affordably eat while in town; and how to afford a co-payment if a prescription is needed. Those are the main worries, but certainly not all.
The decision to make a difference was made and supported by the Manager of Social Work
Chaplain Elisheva witnessed the dilemma facing Social Workers, who were often desperate to secure these particular patients, when no hospital agency or charity was available for immediate temporary assistance. Along with her husband and a close friend, working solely as volunteers, the charity was formed in 2008 and received IRS status in 2009. Beginning with the objective of making sure that no more children would be burdened with sleeping in cars with a hungry family, lodging became the first priority. Since then, other categories evolved which needed immediate attention. They were the development of a meal packet program for access by all Social Workers, assistance with food in UVA Hospitality House, late night and emergency need for prescriptions and/or co-pays, periodic bus tickets in town and long distance, and four years ago the need for infant car seats for indigent parents who could not leave the hospital without this safety device for all infants. Of unique importance was the fact that the charity, known as Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum (or IHS) operates 24/7 to answer Social Work inquiries. No one is charged for these services, and no staff member is paid. The charity is dependent on private donations, and a few grants for specific needs.
Many of you who follow the e-mails and/or blog postings over the years know the stories
There are many, and they tend to be repeated monthly. Different days, different people.
Early on ...there was the young mother whose husband was in critical care with broken hips from a fall at a construction site. She was with an infant and small boy, sleeping in the Hospital garage until a Social Worker learned of the situation and asked Chaplain Clegg to see if she could locate lodging for them. They were placed in a hotel personally before the charity was formed.
There were and are constant caregivers in waiting rooms, and especially the ER waiting room, sometimes elderly who were there for days who had not eaten simply because they could not afford to continue eating in the cafeteria. With the beginning of the full-day meal packet program a Social Worker could call aside someone and ask if they needed something to eat.
There were and are late released patients, sometimes nursing injuries, with no one to take them home for great distances and nowhere to sleep except in a chair in the Emergency Room area. A night was provided in a hotel for such cases. This allowed for arrangements the next day for someone to arrive and take the patient home.
There were and are patients who needed immediate medications following release, and the charity paid by phone and the Social Worker would call ahead to a pharmacy and confirm the need. Many patients simply do not have three dollars for a co-pay and would have by-passed a necessary medication without IHS assistance.
Thanks for your quick review and why we remain committed to this charity. The least able among us don't require much on most occasions ... but when they do ... that need is NOW.
Your donation keeps us in rapid response mode!
Please remember that all of us at IHS are non-paid volunteers, and we are all donating what we can to IHS personally. Also remember - for transparency we hold the "Gold Seal of Approval" from the Guidestar.org national clearing house. Please do what you can. And, if you would like to donate now to our cause, please click the button below to go to our encrypted secure on-line donation form.
A Sincere Appeal ...T. Wade, Elisheva & Sam
IHS Founding Officers