This excerpt is from page 16 of Beginnings, Middles, & Ends:
Sideways Stories on the Art & Soul of Social Work, by Ogden W.
Rogers. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
I pulled aside the curtain. The patient was lying on the gurney, bandaged in several places and on an IV.
“Hi. How can I help you?”
“I’m not sure how. I don’t know that I need help from you.”
“Ahh. OK. Let me start again. What brings you here today?”
She laughed. “Ahh, an ambulance?”
I stepped back and bowed my head. “No. You are absolutely right. I’m in a hurry and I’ve started this all wrong. Please allow me to begin again.”
I knocked on the door. “Hello? Mrs. Hamline? I’m Mr. Rogers. I’m a social worker here in the Emergency Department. Dr. Macalester told me that he’s spoken with you about being admitted to the surgical unit, and he told me that you have concerns about your children at home. I’m wondering if we could talk together. Is there anything I can do to assist you?”
She smiled back. “Hello, Mr. Rogers. I’m Arella Hamline. I’m also a social worker at City Department of Social Services. I am glad you’re here. I’ve apparently been in a serious auto accident, and they’re going to admit me to the hospital, and I might go to the operating room tonight. I was on my way home from work. My children are probably at home now from school, but I haven’t been able to contact them. I need to call my neighbor to see if she can watch them until I can get ahold of my mother and father who might be able to look after them. I don’t have my phone, and I’m afraid I don’t know her number.”
“Ms. Hamline, it would be my pleasure to help. Let me slip over to my office and get my directory and a phone. I’ll be right back.”
She laughed. “It’s a pleasure doing business with you.”