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In a role such as social worker, it's unsurprising that Kate DeVore is drawn to the phrase, "If you give a man a fish, you will feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you will feed him for a lifetime."
"I've seen it in so many different settings, whether here at work in the Pulmonary clinic or overseas in West Africa," she said. "I want people to see they have access to more resources than they realize. To me, teaching them to see and use what they already have is showing them their greatest asset."
Such a deep desire to help others and live with a servant's heart is inherent for social workers and for Kate, she knows where it came from for her. "My mother spent years volunteering at hospitals as a candy striper and really instilled a sense of volunteerism in me, which I explored in middle and high school," she acknowledged.
But social work, especially in a hospital setting, didn't appear on her radar until tragedy struck. A close friend of hers in high school was involved in an accident with a drunk driver that landed him in the ICU. During this time, Kate spent much time being by his family's side and trying to help and be that support for them in whatever way possible. Her friend's mother, in the midst of her own time of struggle, noticed that both the hospital's social worker and Kate shared a caring spirit to solve problems. It was this mother that suggested, "Have you ever thought about doing what they are doing but at a hospital?"
That clarity was now there. Kate said, "I want to be the person that sees a problem and finds a solution. Sometimes even before anyone even realizes they have that problem." When looking at her role and those of her peers, the words "problem solver" and "social worker" are virtually interchangeable.
Within the walls of the Pulmonary clinic, Kate's days may be filled as following up with parents on all the issues that come up during appointments, such as the more usual requests of finding affordable medications or reliable transportation to discussing the financial arrangements for the patient.
"I love the variety of what each day offers because there's always a chance for something out of the ordinary," she explained. "For example, a parent asked about setting up a trust for their child to cover medical costs when they turn 18. This was completely new to me. I admitted as much to them but told them that I would walk with them through it all until they got the answers they needed. But now, if (and more likely when) this request comes along again, I'll have that knowledge ready to go and share."
It's these little things that make a world of difference for parents even though it may not be what the hospital or the clinic "has" to do for families. Using a very common example, Kate has a clear explanation as to why they do it. "Is it the hospital's responsibility to clothe parents who showed up in a hurry with only the clothes on their back? No, it's not. But do we clothe the parents? Yes!," she said. "Why? Because it's the right thing to do."
"I know that, as a social worker, I apply the golden rule in my choices," Kate continued. "There will always be times in our lives when each of us are walking through crisis. We just need to approach others with the mentality of treating them how we would hope to be treated. It's just a simple but important rule."
Kate is quick to point out that, within her team and even across Cook Children's, this is the standard that she's witnessed. "Last month, we had a father and 2-year-old with a complex medical history, who arrived from out-of-state with no money, clothes or way home," she recalled. "With a discharge scheduled during our freezing weather, securing travel, clothes, meals and so much more was a beautiful display of the compassionate, hardworking and creative team of caregivers we have at Cook Children's, from social work to case management to nursing to physicians." (Read this family's entire story as told by Kate.)
This unmatched willingness and ability to cover all the bases for our families is a sense of pride that Kate has by working here. "This is a magical place where everyone is working together to meet the needs of the patients and families. We leave no one behind and we look for opportunities to go the extra mile," she proclaimed.
Kate is right. The togetherness amongst our staff and the selflessness of our actions for our families and each other are what make us stronger and what allows us to say #WeAreCookChildrens.