Social worker Cynthia West helps someone every day
Cynthia West describes herself as a professional problem solver.
“As social workers, we’re always trying to help people solve some type of issue,” says the social work specialist in the outpatient cancer center. “If we can’t solve it, we provide them with the support that they need.”
West was first drawn to nursing, and while she loved the medical aspect, she realized it wasn’t her passion.
Connecting patients with outside resources
Patients who discharge from the outpatient cancer center have a variety of needs, ranging from home health care resources to hospice and end-of-life care.
“Recently a patient discharged with a new ostomy,” says Michelle Greve, RN, wound ostomy nurse team. “English was not the patient’s primary language, making ostomy education a little more difficult. No home care agencies were available. Cynthia helped find an agency that met the patient’s needs.”
West consulted with the UI Hospital & Clinics’ Interpreting Services for help communicating with the patient.
“I called about 10 agencies before I found one for this patient,” says West. “The staff there provided services to this gentleman and they had to help with his care.”
During her two decades as a social worker, West has helped many people. She’ll remember one man for the rest of her life.
When she first met him, the patient had recently been diagnosed with a head and neck cancer and came from a difficult living situation. While he received chemotherapy and radiation, he became homeless.
“We worked with him throughout that time,” she recalls. “Eventually, we found some family members and he gave us permission to contact them. They were able to move him from the homeless shelter to their home and take care of him as he was dying.”
West says the man’s sister and his son were so happy to be able to be there for him during that time, they were grateful to be involved. West, too, is grateful she can help others.
“I work with incredible people and incredible patients who show so much grace in difficult times,” she says. “I love coming to work. Every day I know I’m helping someone.”