March is Social Work Month

(Honesdale, March 24, 2021)… The theme of 2021’s Social Work Month is “Social Workers Are Essential.”  At Wayne Memorial Hospital, the past year highlighted just how essential our social workers are, providing support during the pandemic to individuals and families grieving and isolated from loved ones. Social workers offer a lifeline to many in our community – from protecting abused and neglected children to providing mental health and substance abuse disorder treatment to helping veterans and hospital patients acquire needed services.

Wayne Memorial’s eight social workers, who all have at least five years’ experience in the field, describe the past year as the most challenging any of them had ever faced.

“The pandemic brought about many changes in the hospital, including a no-visitor policy twice in the past year for many months at a time, and it was very emotional for many of our patients,” said Lauren Rogan, Licensed Social Worker (LSW), “We worked very hard to help close the gap between them and the families they couldn’t see in person.”

“We truly acted as bridges,” said Megan Brosky, LSW, who spent a lot of time in the COVID-19 unit at the hospital. “We utilized all the technology available to us like Facetime on iPads and Zoom to make our patients feel like the other person was in the same room as much as possible.”

Anna Walsh, LSW, a social worker in the Home Health & Hospice Department, added that for patients who found themselves in the Emergency Department and then, a short time later in hospice care, it was particularly emotional and frightening.  “As social workers, we are trained to give them a guiding hand, but this year it was very hard when family members couldn’t be with them in the hospital.”

Nicole Hartung, LSW,  called “reassurance” the foundation of what she and her fellow social workers offer. “It’s all about reassuring patients and families, helping them connect in an emotional way.”

Department Manager Mary Burgio-Terpak, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is proud of her staff. “I’ve been the Social Work manager here for 25 years, and this group of social workers has the strongest advocacy skills I’ve experienced in the field of medical social work.”

This past year also saw the department change names, from the Social Services Department to the Social Work Department. It reflected generally the education of the employees, who all have master’s degrees in social work.

“Our social workers at Wayne Memorial are essential to our healthcare team, and they are extremely committed to our patients, our staff and our community,” said James Pettinato, RN, MHSA, CCRN-K, director Patient Care Services, “Day-in, day-out, they live up to their mission to protect, provide and assist—and often go above and beyond. This year, they managed to reach out and ‘hold people’s hands’ – figuratively—when, literally, they could not.”


Photo, left to right: Wayne Memorial Hospital social workers Anna Walsh, LSW; Bonnie Burch, LSW; Nicole Hartung, LSW; Mary Burgio-Terpak, LCSW;  Megan Brosky, LSW; Lauren Rogan, LSW; Jacqueline Moase, LSW and Melanie Nelson, LSW.