Coronavirus pandemic and social work in Hospital: an Italian experience

Prepared by: Anna Scarnera

Health policies that address the coronavirus infection is related to social policy which depends on political choices. In this period we can read about the medical effects of the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences during lockdown in order to prepare for the economic recovery. I’m honored to share with other colleagues around the world my experience as a pediatric social worker in the Maggiore Hospital in Bologna, one of italian hospitals in Emilia Romagna in northern Italy, a place  where the virus extensively.

For me, the value of professional sharing is most important in this very difficult situation. I’m not working from home, and so every day I go to the hospital to work.Many things are changing but we always ensure continuity of care for hospitalised children.

As always children give us the strength to face every difficulty and to protect them in the best way. The coronavirus hasn’t changed the passion, determination and courage we have to do this work. I think that every social worker can understand what I mean.

Now children in hospital are in serious health conditions most of the time and they need longer periods of hospitalisation for rehabilitation and therapy. In fact in the case of non-serious health problems, families go to the local pediatricians as reccomended.

Multidisciplinary team meetings are held in videoconference. I’m in close contact with social workers outside the hospital and even if we can’t meet like before, it’s possible to talk about the situations of families on the phone or by email in order to find the best way to help children to leave the hospital and return home safely.

I’m constantly looking for voluntary associations that can ensure their precious presence even in this period to help families in need, or to inform parents about online self-help groups to consider diseases of children or other personal problems and never feel alone.

I believe that this terrible situation can help us to stop and think about how to become a stronger international professional community and go on to help each other to be the best we can as social workers for families who ask for help.

I greet all colleagues across the world wishing you all the best in doing a good job in memory of all social workers who have died from coronavirus and also of all the people who have disappeared. As the Chilean poet and writer Luis Sepùlveda, proclaims,

“Only those who dare may fly. (Luis Sepùlveda)”

Pediatric Social Worker Anna Scarnera, Ospedale Maggiore, Bologna