2019 HOSPITAL SOCIAL WORKER OF THE YEAR NOMINEE
HOSPITAL SOCIAL WORKER OF THE YEAR
Patrycja Birbaum graduated from the University of Toronto with her Masters in School Work (2007) with a focus in mental health and addictions. Her work has been primarily focused in adult acute care. She has 14 year of clinical experience helping people navigate their lives as they brave their most vulnerable life moments. Most recently her journey has brought her to Toronto where she works at St Micheals hospital in the trauma neurosurgery program.
She has worked with patients and families on the continuum of their healthcare trajectory from initial onset of diagnosis, transitions out of acute care to home & rehabilitation settings. Should survival not be possible, Patrycja works to support patients and family values at end-of-life. She has a passion for promoting mental health and wellness of her patients as they recover from physical Injury. She’s keen to try new interventions and has co-facilitated an 8 week acceptance and commitment therapy group which was a new addition to the out patient head injury program at St.Michael’s hospital in 2017.
During her time at London Health Sciences Centre, where she worked as a social worker in the trauma intensive care unit, Patrycja co-facilitated a patient and family experience committee whose focus was ensuring the best patient and family outcome. She drove the idea of a “comfort cart” being developed parallel to the idea of a “code blue cart”. In place of a code blue cart with a defibrillator and many specialized medications, this cart was stocked with items that could be used for memory making at end of life. This included handprints and molds, crafting material to make personalized jewelry, a coffee maker, snacks, music to play the patients favourite songs, grief resources and blankets to name a few. These little gestures brought a light into a very sad space. The physical cart was a mobile kitchen island specifically to provide a piece of homelike feel to an otherwise sterile atmosphere. This not only brought comfort to the families but brought the team together who often donated items themselves to keep the cart a sustainable addition.
She’s passionate about student education and has offered student placements and resident teaching. She participates in many quality improvement initiates and has developed educational material to help patients and family navigate their health care journey. She sits on various committees including unit-based council and the patient family satisfaction and flow committee. She’s committed to her profession and strives for excellence by participating in ongoing training opportunities. Her next goals are to conduct research within her program.
Patrycja is honoured to be selected as a candidate for the Annual Hospital Social Worker of the Year Award through the OBIA.