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The Cutting Edge - Social Worker Carol Stansbury

Cutting Edge Winter 2010

Social Worker Carol Stansbury

Date: March 1, 2010

Carol Stansbury and fellow social worker Martha Ross assist a patient on the vascular service.
Carol Stansbury and fellow social worker Martha Ross assist a patient on the vascular service.

If there’s someone with a more comprehensive Rolodex around Hopkins than Carol Stansbury, we’d like to see it.

No, it’s not filled with the numbers of the rich and famous. It contains contacts far more valuable, at least to those needing the assistance of social workers at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. From shelters to community assistance groups to child protective services, Stansbury’s network of support for the 41 staff and 500 patient beds under her care runs as deep and wide as a redwood’s roots.

“I’ve been here 25 years,” says Stansbury, who manages the Medical/Surgery Social Work Unit, which includes the emergency department, neurosciences, The Wilmer Eye Institute, and all the associated outpatient clinics. “And one of the first things you learn is that you don’t wait for problems to come to you, but instead you actively seek out community resources for patients.”

On any given day, Stansbury says her staff helps patients with a huge variety of issues, everything from referrals for victims of domestic violence to counseling for families coping with the aftermath of a loved one’s cancer surgery.

The idea is that the social worker is viewed not as a discharge manager, but rather as a highly creative medical concierge capable of steering patients and families to whatever services they need to optimize their well-being. To augment this, Stansbury brings in a variety of community liaisons to meet with her staff in in-service seminars, groups such as, an organization committed to lowering the city’s high infant mortality rates.

During her 50-plus-hour weeks, Stansbury tries to balance her numerous administrative and training duties with a consistent floor presence, noting that “I can’t manage well if I don’t know what my people are going through and the environment in which they have to work, right down to the physical layout that affects how they do their jobs.”

And whereas some might burn out from such an onslaught of staff and patient needs, Stansbury thrives, including being honored recently with HR’s Presidential Leadership Award.

“I know this sounds like a cliché, but Hopkins really is an outstanding place in terms of opportunities on so many levels,” she says. “That’s what I try to pass on to my staff and that’s what keeps me happy here—that, and my innate need to help people make their lives better.”

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