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“You never stop being a social worker:” Experiences of pediatric hospital social workers during the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic
Social Work in Health Care  (IF1.602),  Pub Date : 2021-03-04, DOI: 10.1080/00981389.2021.1885565
Abigail M. Ross, Samantha Schneider, Yudy F. Muneton-Castano, Adolfo Al Caldas, Elizabeth R. Boskey

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought widespread devastation upon children and families across the United States, widening existing health disparities and inequities that disproportionately affect communities of color. In health care settings specifically, social work is the key workforce tasked with responding to patient and family psychosocial needs, both of which have increased substantially since the emergence of COVID-19. There is a need to understand ways in which hospital social workers’ roles, responsibilities, and integration within interprofessional teams have evolved in response to these challenges. In this qualitative study, focus groups were conducted with 55 social workers employed across multiple settings in a large, urban, pediatric hospital in Spring 2020. Thematic analyses revealed salient superordinate themes related to the pandemic’s impact on social work practice and social workers themselves, institutional facilitators and impediments to effective social work and interprofessional practice, and social work perspectives on future pandemic recovery efforts. Within each theme, a number of interrelated subthemes emerged elucidating nuances of telehealth adoption in the context of remote work, the salience of social determinants of health, and the critical role of social work in social justice oriented pandemic preparedness and response efforts. Implications for interprofessional practice and the profession at large are discussed.