Q&A with Krystle Karlinsky, Social Worker

Krystle Karlinsky, Social WorkerWhat does a social worker do?

Each day is very different in the MMC Social Services Department. Our role is to work with patients, families, physicians, nurses, and other departments such as physical and occupational therapies to develop plans for discharge out of the hospital setting. This plan will vary by individual needs of the patient. Plans may include making arrangements for home health care, a rehabilitation stay, referrals for long-term nursing home or assisted living placement, and obtaining durable medical equipment. We assist in providing information on transportation options and financial resources available. We not only assist in educating patients and families on the options available, but also facilitate those referrals from the hospital setting to ensure a smooth transition upon discharge. We work closely with community agencies in making discharge arrangements from making the initial referral to working with the nurses and physicians to ensure the agencies receive the necessary documentation to support the patient upon discharge. We also provide information on advance directives and assist in the process of drafting them.

When a patient comes to see you, what information should they bring?

It is always helpful for us to know what types of supports a patient already has in their life which can include family members, home health, their own equipment, or they may be enrolled in a program such as IRIS or Family Care. Having this information in the beginning assists greatly in the discharge planning process. If a patient has already completed an advance directive such as a Power of Attorney for Healthcare or Living Will, they should make sure the hospital has a copy on file.

What three questions should patient’s consider during their visit?

  1. What services are available to me?
  2. How can I access these services?
  3. How are these services paid for?

The answers vary depending on what service you choose, what type of insurance coverage you have, and if there are certain criteria that need to be met to use the service. Social Workers will assist patients and families in answering these questions as part of the discharge planning process. This process can include making phone calls to insurance companies or even starting a prior-authorization process from the hospital setting.

What is the largest misconception you think patients have about social workers?

Some patients may confuse the role of a hospital social worker with that of a social worker employed by the county. In fact, our roles are very different. As hospital social workers, we are available to answer questions, provide support, and develop discharge plans for any patient, regardless of their socioeconomic status.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give patient’s to improve their overall health?

Plan ahead. Although they can be very difficult conversations to have with your loved ones, take the time to talk about your wishes while you are healthy and get it in writing. Advance Directives help to ensure that your physician and family are aware of your healthcare preferences and what quality of life is important to you. It can also guide your family in making medical decisions while going through a stressful and emotional situation.

If folks wanted additional information about completing a Power of Attorney for Healthcare, what are some available resources?

Please feel free to contact MMC Social Services at 685-5399 or 685-5398 to request information or set up an appointment to meet with us. We have forms available in our office.

Forms and information can also be found online on the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website.