By Erma Freeman, MSW, LCSW, CCM
Shepherd Center Case Manager and Social Worker
The theme for this year’s Social Work Month, recognized every year in March, is “Social Workers Stand Up!” What does this mean to Shepherd Center’s social workers? This is a call to action for us to educate the public about the contributions of social workers and to proudly identify ourselves as social workers.
In the Shepherd Center Case Management Department, you will find employees with varied professional backgrounds. Several of us are licensed social workers who work throughout the continuum of care here. Social workers serve as access case managers, ICU case managers, inpatient case managers and post-acute case managers.
We are strong leaders in our individual areas of practice. As case managers, social workers at Shepherd Center serve as patient advocates, team leaders, discharge planners, counselors, etc. We are expected to know everything that goes on with our patients on a daily basis ranging from medical, treatment team and family issues to insurance challenges and discharge plans. Everything lands on the lap of the social work case manager. It is a very challenging, yet rewarding, job that allows us to use our expertise as social workers while also adhering to our Code of Ethics.
As case managers, social workers wear many hats and bring unique skill sets to the Shepherd Center Case Management Department. We are trained to value the dignity and self-worth of all human beings, to be true advocates, critical thinkers and to respect patient’s rights to self-determination, autonomy and responsibility. We use these skills on a daily basis and are not afraid to truly think outside the box in providing and promoting the best care and service to our patients and their families.
ERMA FREEMAN, MSW, LCSW, CCM, is a licensed social worker and a case manager for Shepherd Center's Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program.
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Ga., is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury or brain injury. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation and is a 152-bed facility. Last year Shepherd Center had 965 admissions to its inpatient programs and 571 to its day patient programs. In addition, Shepherd Center sees more than 6,600 people annually on an outpatient basis. For more information, visit Shepherd Center online at www.shepherd.org