Spotlight on Social Services: Creative Problem Solvers

From Left to Right: Tedda Borges (5 years), Beverly Biggs (40 years) and Toni Miller (10 years) celebrate at Mad River Community Hospital’s Employee Recognition Dinner at Blue Lake Casino.  

Our Creative Problem Solvers

By Jenny Nielsen/MRCH
Published June, 2019

Beverly, Toni and Tedda are the magicians that solve complicated patient issues. Every day is a challenge and the trio has come to “always expect the unexpected.”
Every case is different. For example, an elderly woman was set up for home hospice care by our Social Services team. Durable medical equipment was on its way to be delivered to her home, ambulance transport was arranged and additional services were set up. All was going to plan when she decided that she did not want to leave the hospital and requested that her family come see her. Plans changed in an instant and our team had to “roll with the punches” and find creative ways to problem solve for this patient.
This could happen at any moment – for more than 2500 patients they help each year. They are responsible for offering support and resources that patients need in order to fully recover from a medical illness or injury as well as the resulting emotional, physical or psychological concerns. Our team arranges all available resources to ensure patients recover and achieve optimal well-being.
They see all Med/Surg, ICU and some OBGYN patients prior to discharge to plan and coordinate after-care services such as at-home care, follow-up appointments or finding the patient a rehabilitation facility, if needed. In other words, they help patients and their families navigate the process of illness and injury, from hospitalization to recovery.
Patients and their families rely on our team to help them navigate life’s most challenging moments. Our team serves an exceptionally critical function at MRCH. They navigate our health care system’s thorny political, social and bureaucratic challenges to help patients and their families achieve optimal outcomes – even when family dynamics are challenging
Our team acts as case managers, coordinating patient care. This can include connecting patients with needed social services. For instance, they may help a homeless patient find a shelter or housing program. In fact, our team spent a year and a half helping a mentally ill “frequent flyer” at the hospital find housing he was willing to accept. They went as far as getting public health officials, the Public Guardian’s Office and the Arcata Police Department involved to help this man out as he was unable to care for himself.
As Dr. Tong stated – Beverly, Toni and Tedda “do everything” and keep their cool doing it. As Toni said, recovering patients and their families are scared when they’ve been through trauma. These persistent and sympathetic women provide humanitarian support and help people cope with their medical issues.
Everyone from doctors and nurses to medical records and billing work together to provide excellent patient care. As Beverly put it, they couldn’t do this job without their coworkers throughout the hospital. She’s made some of her best, lifelong friends here after working in Social Services for 25 years and has been with the hospital 40 years. In her words, her job is “never boring.” That sounds about right.