February 20, 2012
Handling Distressed Patients
Recently we've had several patients experiencing emotional distress in the PERC, and I wanted to share with you our changed protocol (it's better!) for dealing with patients who could benefit from the presence of a social worker.
If/when a distressed patient comes into the PERC, and you want to call for social work support, the first action to take is to page the social work triage pager, which will go to Laura Munger. That pager number is 2754. To send a page, please visit this page https://umhspaging.med.umich.edu/smartweb/ and enter the pager number, add Laura to the recipient list, enter the PERC phone number, and then send the page. Someone will get back to you quickly.
Another great resource we have for distressed patients is the Practical Assistance Center (PAC). The PAC can be reached at 7-0859. More information about the PAC can be found at their website, http://www.cancer.med.umich.edu/support/practical-assistance.shtml.
The PAC is currently staffed by social workers, and is in the process of hiring a full-time triage social worker.
I want to make sure everyone understands that you are not required to intervene for patients in distress, nor are you required to calm anyone down or solve their problems. I know it can feel overwhelming when someone is upset, and everyone wants to help, but please understand that we have professional social work staff who are trained to deal with exactly these kinds of situations. Please call them! You, as a volunteer or staff member, are only required to be professional, kind, and to contact the appropriate staff members, either at the social work triage pager number or at the PAC.
If you run into any difficulties or want to talk over a situation, please don't hesitate to call me at 6-7518 or send an email to email@example.com.