Comfort and Trust: How Social Work helps our family
July 25, 2016
Topics: Riley Kid Story
In May of 2015 our daughter Robin was running track and playing soccer when she started having pain in her hip. Her initial diagnosis was a misaligned pelvis. After several physical therapy treatments that only helped marginally, she was taken to a chiropractor on September 1, 2015. When the chiropractor looked at the X-ray the anomaly in her pelvis was observed.
After several tests Robin was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma. Once her cancer was fully diagnosed she started treatment within a couple of days, September 23, 2015. Since that time she has been in and out of Riley not only for the chemotherapy and radiation but also complications from the treatments.
Robin has had some rare complications that required the staff to reach out to other hospitals around the world to find the best treatment plan. To date, the plans have been very successful. Most of the side effects from the treatment have been either cured or improved.
The treatment at Riley is a team approach. Physicians from multiple specialties take care of your child. If there is an issue outside of a physician’s specific specialty an appropriate specialist is consulted. However, the team approach does not end with the physicians. The nursing staff, Child Life Specialists, teachers, social workers and others all work to get your child the best care they can offer.
Financial and social concerns for the family are not ignored. The social workers at Riley not only tell you about benefits available to you, they also help you obtain them.
Robin has a friendship with Social Worker Vanessa Pataky. Robin is not an extrovert, and she has not taken advantage of the many activities and functions available for the kids. Vanessa immediately picked up on Robin's self-imposed isolation. She always stopped by and at least said hi and started to learn about Robin. They found similarities and Vanessa focused on those and a bond developed. They talk about clothes and girl stuff, do their nails together, and play games. Robin also talks to Vanessa about her concerns that she will not share with us. She also tells Vanessa about the things we do that bother her.
Vanessa has also been there when Robin had to go through some physical exams that were very intrusive. When I am the only guardian around on a given day, Vanessa has been able to step into the role of ambassador for Robin. On a couple of occasions Robin was being examined and became uncomfortable. Because Vanessa knew Robin, she was able to identify she was becoming uncomfortable and agitated and resolve the situations, including terminating an exam.
Vanessa has also helped the rest of our family by providing us gas cards, obtaining gifts for Robin from charities, and linking us with many other resources to help us. She has also been there when my wife and I just needed someone to talk to. We had a very minor bump in the road where we need to have a conference with the medical team. Vanessa and Kathy Wilson, RN, put together the meeting, and they were both there to help us and the rest of the care team talk through our concerns.
We are so grateful for all the care that Riley’s Social Work team and other staff members have provided throughout Robin’s journey. The staff at Riley have been friendly, supportive and professional. They not only care for the patient—they take care of the whole family.
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