Social Work Team Joins CHaD

Pediatric social workers
Carly Ogden, MSW, and Tory Emery, MSW

We now have more autonomy to develop protocols that are laser-focused on pediatric health.

Carly Ogden, MSW

Dedicated social workers in the pediatric inpatient units and outpatient clinics support the patients and families of the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD), as they navigate the psychosocial parts of their often complex medical care.

Along with social workers focused on the needs of adult patients, CHaD’s social workers have historically been part of Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Office of Care Management. Due to the unique nature of caring for pediatric patients, the team of 11 officially became part of CHaD in July of 2021.

“There’s a general sense of excitement among the team as we look forward to growing professionally together,” shares social worker Carly Ogden, MSW. “We have always identified as being part of CHaD, and the confidence CHaD leadership has in us with this change allows us to deliver a holistic way of providing care by focusing all of our training and practices on pediatrics.”

CHaD Social Workers and areas of coverage:

  • Abigail Horan, Pediatrics/Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
  • L’Tonya Johnson, Intensive Care Nursery
  • Mary Horan, Birthing Pavilion
  • Maddie Ritter, Hematology/Oncology
  • Hannah Santaw, Primary Care
  • Alice Berliner, Audiology, Nephrology, Endocrinology
  • Sarah Cavarnos, Child Development, Behavioral and Neurodevelopmental Services
  • Tory Emery, Child Advocacy and Protection Program (CAPP) Lebanon
  • Carly Ogden, Complex Care, Transitional Long-term Care Clinic, Craniofacial, Spina Bifida, Gastroenterology
  • Meghan Harkins, Cardiology, Neurology, CAPP, Child Development
  • Jacki Capponcelli, CAPP Manchester

Ogden credits CHaD Director Keith J. Loud, MD, MSC, for supporting the change, and CHaD Ambulatory Services Director Catherine Garfield Legare and Shannon Torres, practice manager, Pediatrics, for developing the infrastructure and managing the administrative requirements to make it happen. This includes the creation of the Social Work Team Lead role, currently shared by Ogden and Tory Emery, MSW, LICSW.

“Carly and I are providing clinical oversite to our social workers to ensure we are offering the right support, at the right time, in the right setting. This shift in management really aligns us with other children’s hospitals across the country,” Emery explains.

Positive changes

While CHaD’s social workers have always had office spaces in patient areas, this change immediately improves processes and procedures for how they work. “We now have more autonomy to develop protocols that are laser-focused on pediatric health,” Ogden says.

Each social worker is assigned to a specific CHaD clinic or inpatient unit and being officially part of CHaD provides continuity for both inpatients and those who have been discharged but still require care. It helps families trust an unbiased, familiar face as they continue making medical decisions. For example, the Oncology social worker consistently establishes and maintains long-term relationships with patients and families due to the nature of cancer treatment.

Social workers focus on the stressors experienced by patients and families while admitted and serve as community liaisons to establish support upon discharge. They also assess children and families for safety and partner with child protection services in New Hampshire and Vermont. The social workers assigned to the Child Advocacy and Protection Program (CAPP) provide a wealth of resources in those situations.

“With the addition of some philanthropic funding, we’ve been fortunate to increase our positions to support some of our most critical programs, including a full-time MSW in the CAPP program who is also part of our CHaD MSW group,” Emery shares.

The team also works very closely with schools, as well as CHaD’s chaplains, Child Life team and nurses. “CHaD’s social workers help to keep the big picture in mind: not just the patient, but the family system,” Ogden says. “We figure out what needs can be met to optimize the child’s health. We put the ‘social’ in social determinants of health (conditions that affect health, including housing, nutrition, mental health, and transportation).”

For more information about CHaD’s social workers and the team of professionals who serve CHaD patients and families, visit www.chadkids.org/your-visit/your-health-care-team.