Social work

A calming force: the role of social work in emergencies

Alycia Karsjens’ role in the Emergency Department (ER) is a combination of raw emotion, high intensity and a desire to support families of patients wherever possible.

As a social worker this means performing a variety of tasks.

Alycia Karsjens, LMSW, social worker in the emergency department

To begin with, Karsjens, LMSW, is aware of any trauma (car crashes, gunshot wounds, drowning, etc.) and patients of a critical nature (heart attack, stroke, code issuance, etc.) entering the lane. ‘hospital. From there, she has a priority checklist to work from.

“First and foremost, I help identify the patient,” says Karsjens, a social worker in the emergency room. “It might sound silly, but often these patients come in the form of Jane or John Doe and we have no idea who they are. So I frequently work with local law enforcement to identify who is the patient.Once we find out, my next role is to let their loved ones know what happened.

Once contact has been established with the family, Karsjens becomes the main link between the medical team and the patient’s relatives.

“We don’t want to take the medical team away from caring for the patient, but at the same time, we don’t want to overlook the family’s need for information,” she says. “So I become that kind of go-between to make sure the family stays up to date. “

Karsjens and other social workers in the emergency department also coordinate arrangements and support families during end-of-life situations, and serve as mandatory rapporteurs for child abuse and dependent adult cases.

20 years in the making

It took a single day in 2001 for Alycia Karsjens to find her passion for social work. And now, 20 years later, that passion burns more than ever.

thank’s for our social workers who this week are celebrating 100 years of social work at the University of Iowa Health Care.

In the second year of high school, Karsjens took a placement test as part of a project; his best result was a social worker. Her next step was to find a social worker for the match.

“I found a social worker in hospitals and clinics in the IU, and she agreed to let me follow her for a day,” Karsjens explains. “My mom drove me two hours to Iowa City, dropped me off at the hospital, and when I left that day 20 years ago, I was like, ‘This is the job. what I want to do and where I want to do it. ‘”

While in graduate school, Karsjens joined the emergency department staff at IU hospitals and clinics for the night shift. Then after three and a half years she moved on to the day shift and now, 13 years later, she is still passionate about the role she plays.

A call worth it

While it’s certainly a high-intensity environment, Karsjens says it’s worth it. As the hospital’s only social work division staffed 24/7, Karsjens and his team are always ready.

“We don’t close our doors because, in order to provide the best possible social services, we always have to be there,” she says. “I miss the holidays with my family and I miss the activities on the weekends. But for me, my role is so important, and I’m passionate about it, so it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

Karsjens may be a stranger to patients’ families when they first enter the emergency room, but she takes pride in supporting them through what is often the worst day of their lives.

“As we go through what they came here for, I almost feel like part of their family,” she says. “My time with them may only be a few hours, but I’m honored to support them in these situations, and I’m proud to try to be the calming force. “