National Social Work Month recognized at Veterans Memorial Hospital

Tatum Iverson ... Submitted photo.
Tatum Iverson ... Submitted photo.

March is National Social Work Month. Tatum Iverson is the full-time social worker at Veterans Memorial Hospital (VMH). Her role is very large, touching most every patient’s care who enters and leaves the hospital.   She works closely with hospital staff, patients, their families and their insurance companies to coordinate the proper levels of care needed and be sure these are approved.

If the patient is already at VMH under acute care, Tatum can help transfer that level of care to skilled care for things like physical/occupational/speech therapy or longer-term IV antibiotics, prior to being able to return home.  If a patient would benefit from staying in a hospital for skilled care following a hospitalization or surgical procedure, the patient can ask for a referral to be made to Veterans Memorial Hospital’s Swing Bed program.  Tatum then handles these referrals to be sure the patient is accepted by their insurance carrier.

“Skilled Care can help make your eventual transition home much more successful, so I advise it whenever I can,” explains Tatum Iverson, Social Worker at Veterans Memorial Hospital.  “The extra days of therapy and medications in the hospital can be the factor that makes a transfer back home successful and really should be considered by all patients.”

A hospital based social worker works as a discharge planner to help elderly or disabled patients arrange in-home services. The social worker connects the patients with numerous community services they may need such as home health nursing and therapy, home-delivered meals, housekeeping and shopping services.

“Many services can be provided right here at home without traveling out of town,” adds Tatum.  “I try to encourage patients to ask for their services, even something as simple as an EKG, to see if they can be provided here in town, to help save our patients, especially our older community, from having to travel.”

If a patient is no longer able to be discharged to their home, Tatum can give direction for finding the right fit, whether it be senior housing, assisted living or nursing home care.

“I encourage families to have the hard conversations to know what your spouse or parents wish for their long-term care, after they are no longer able to live at home,” advises Tatum.  “It is so important to take the time to fill out your Advance Directives and share your plans with your family members so there are no surprises. We like a copy here at the hospital to place in your medical record as well as with your primary care clinic and your family members.”

Tatum can also provide assistance with applying for benefits, such as Medicaid, Social Security Disability and SSI, or VA benefits. Feel free to call VMH Social Worker Tatum Iverson at 563-568-3411 with questions.