Riley’s “Problem Solvers”: Meet Social Worker Jenn Benson
Did you know the majority of funding for Riley’s social work team is funded by donors? Riley Children’s Foundation is proud to support this critical part of Riley’s mission.
As we celebrate Social Work month in March, we introduce you to Riley Social Worker Jenn Benson, who has spent the past four years serving families at Riley, primarily in the Emergency Department.
Q: Tell us about your background and what led you to Social Work at Riley?
A: I have a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Indiana University and a Master’s in Social Work from IUPUI. I worked at Hancock Regional Hospital in home care and hospice before coming to Riley, and end-of-life care became a passion of mine. I joined Riley in 2014 and it has been a wonderful experience.
Q: What kinds of things do your days entail in the Emergency Department?
A: Our job is to support families from the get-go so the medical team can focus on caring for the child. As an Emergency Department Social Worker I am part of a comprehensive team that responds to every trauma. I do a lot of assessments to find out what kind of support systems families have in place so we can make sure kids are going back to safe homes. I handle a lot of crisis intervention, and I provide support and comfort to family members while the medical team is handling the child’s care.
Q: What are the most rewarding parts of your work?
A: Being at Riley with your child in a traumatic event is heart-stopping. Being able to say to a parent, “I’ve got you, I’m going to hold you up through this,” is one of the most rewarding things I can do. To know that I’ve provided that kind of support and helped children and parents talk through and process something difficult makes it all worthwhile.
Q: How does Social Work help with medical care for children?
A: Doctors in the emergency room tell me all the time how beneficial it is to have a social worker there because it ensures that they can focus on the child. I feel so supported by our physicians at Riley. Our goals in Social Work include reducing the length of stay for patients and reducing the rate of re-hospitalization. If we are clearing out roadblocks for families before they go home, connecting them with resources and providing support so all their basic needs are met, we can make a big difference in long-term outcomes.
Q: Can you share any special moments where you knew your work made a difference?
A: There was one time when a child in the ER was in a lot of pain and unable to sleep. I was able to hold that child in a specific position that felt more comfortable for her. She slept for four straight hours as I held her, which was the most sleep she’d gotten since she arrived. To be able to provide that kind of comfort and love to a child who was hurting was wonderful. I knew I was making an impact.
Q: What is your message for Riley Children’s Foundation donors who support the Social Work team?
A: We could not do what we do without those of you who donate. I would not be here without your support. We are so blessed by an amazing hospital and Foundation that recognize the impact that Social Work and believe in the power of this work. There aren’t enough “thanks” in the world to express what your gifts mean to me.
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