Mission Monday: A Day In The Life Of Four Diamonds Social Worker Heather Myers 278

Mission Monday: A Day In The Life Of Four Diamonds Social Worker Heather Myers


Have you ever wondered just how your Mini-THON dollars are being put to use at the Penn State Children's Hospital? I sat down with one of the "Gatekeepers of the Money", Heather Myers, to help bring to light how much of an impact Mini-THON has on her job, and all of the different services she can provide to our Four Diamonds families through your amazing support.

Through the support of Mini-THON, Four Diamonds is able to fund a team of 24 specialty care providers whose expertise falls outside of what is considered the "standard of care". So basically, that means we are able to provide a wide array of services outside of the doctors and nurses to help make sure that our Four Diamonds families are receiving the best care that they can. We fund positions like child life specialists, genetic counselors, a registered dietitian and so many others. We also fund 3 full-time social workers and 1 part-time position, who I like to call the superheroes of the hospital, because they handle almost anything that is not considered "medical" with their treatment. Heather gave us a look as to what a day in the life of a Four Diamonds social worker is, so check it out below!

Q: What made you want to get into medical social work?

A: When I was an undergraduate student earning my bachelor's degree in social work, I had several opportunities for field placements at various agencies and settings. I was placed at a school that provided alternative education to high school students, a group home for elementary-aged children, and at Penn State Children's Hospital with the Four Diamonds social work team. I always knew that I wanted the focus of my work to be with children and families. After a year-long placement at Penn State Children's Hospital, I knew that medical social work was going to be my career focus. Medical social work is fast-paced. It also gives you the opportunity to work with different patients on a daily basis, as well as getting to work on a very strong team. Finally, it is really rewarding work!


Q: Why did you want to join the Four Diamonds team at Penn State Children's Hospital?

A: When I was an undergraduate social work intern at the Children's Hospital with Four Diamonds, it was very clear that everyone was here for a common goal. Of course, the goal is to cure cancer, but until we are able to achieve that goal, the team made it clear that they are here to help families who are facing the battle of pediatric cancer, and making sure they do not feel alone. Not only was there an immense feeling of teamwork among the social work team, but also throughout the entire pediatric oncology division, (nurses, doctors, child life specialists, music therapists, chaplains, etc.). They were and are still here to enrich the lives of children fighting pediatric cancer. Who wouldn't want to join such an amazing team?! There is not one day since I started in this role in 2010 that I have regretted joining the Four Diamonds team.
FUN FACT: Heather was an intern under Greg Baiocchi, one of our Four Diamonds social workers who has been with us for 31 years! Now they are co-workers, and it has come full circle!

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: Believe it or not, this is the hardest question I often get asked. Why? Well, because there are so many amazing parts of my job that it is hard to pick just one. When we meet with a family at the time their child is diagnosed with a form of pediatric cancer, they are in crisis. They never expected to take their child to a pediatrician's office or emergency department and hear their child has cancer. We start to walk with the step-by-step through this journey. We help them adjust to the diagnosis and treatment, work with their child's school, provide financial assistance, introduce them to Four Diamonds, celebrate the good days, and provide comfort during the bad days. Seeing the patient and family come full circle is the beauty of the role we have within their care team. As social workers, we continue to follow them into survivorship and beyond. I have met some of the most amazing families through my job. Families that allow me to become part of their family, someone they trust and can lean on throughout some of their most difficult days. I feel honored to get that opportunity everyday.
FUN FACT: Heather always starts her day with a Starbucks drink. It helps to get her "in the zone" and ready to tackle any situation that she might encounter. Social workers' days are never the same, so the little kick start she gets from Starbucks helps to prepare her for anything!

Q: Why are the efforts of Mini-THON students so important to Four Diamonds?

A: Frankly, because without the efforts of the Mini-THON students, I would not be able to do the work that I do. Without their efforts, I would not be able to tell pediatric oncology families at Penn State Children's Hospital that they are not going to have to worry about a single medical bill for their child's treatment. Without their efforts, I would not be able to introduce them to our amazing psycho-social support team members, who are here to support them through their journey. I feel truly honored to get to share the word of the hard work Mini-THON students are doing across PA and beyond! I do my best in all interactions and discussions about the services provided by Four Diamonds to acknowledge the Mini-THON students and their hard work. Without Mini-THON students, we would not have the amount of resources, staff and services available at Penn State Children's Hospital to offer to families. The efforts of Mini-THON students do not go unnoticed and are valued and appreciated daily!

As Mini-THON students, I feel that it is important that you all know just how much of an impact you have on these patient's lives each and every day. From giving tours of the Children's Hospital each day, I see first-hand the impact that you have on our families. These kids would not have access to these supportive services if it were not for your efforts. Taking time on top of all of your other activities you participate in is something that we do not take for granted. We value each and every hour, minute and second you put into Mini-THON. As you move closer to your events, and things may be getting a little bit more stressful, just remember that the work you are doing is helping to make a child smile in the Children's Hospital. For that, we all would like to say thank you!
Blog For The Kids® 01/14/2019 2:02pm EST


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