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SWHPN Statement on SCOTUS Dobbs v. Jackson Ruling

SWHPN Statement on SCOTUS Dobbs v. Jackson Ruling

The Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN) is outraged and profoundly disappointed at the decision released on Friday, June 24 by the Supreme Court of the United States in the Dobbs vs Jackson ruling. This decision not only becomes the first Supreme Court decision to take away recognized individual liberty by ignoring stare decisis, it also places many people’s, and in particular, women’s autonomy lives, and well-being in jeopardy.  It conflicts with the Social Work Code of Ethics by interfering with social workers’ commitment to the dignity and worth of every person, and people’s rights to self-determination, especially over their bodies. Bodily integrity and autonomy are cornerstones for liberty within our society. We anticipate that those who have been historically marginalized and excluded within our society will suffer greatly, and disproportionately, from this decision. We will remain vigilant and encourage our members to work for unfettered access to high-quality health care for every person in our country. Social workers will stand firm in our commitment to social justice, access to quality healthcare, including reproductive health, and the right of every person to self-determination and liberty. 

Honoring Juneteenth

Reflections from the Executive Director

Sunday was Juneteenth, a federal holiday recognizing June 19, 1865 as the date enslaved people in Texas were declared free, more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Because the date fell on a Sunday this year, many people found themselves with the day off from work on Monday, June 20.

To be honest, I have struggled with how to approach Juneteenth in a manner that respects and honors the holiday, given that I am a White woman. Saying “Happy Juneteenth” to the Black people in my life seems not quite the correct phrase (and certainly not to other White people); neither does taking the day off to relax and peruse online sales.

Late yesterday afternoon, I received an email from Jess Eckstrom, an entrepreneur that I don’t recall following, but must have subscribed to her newsletter at some point. She shared thoughts from Crystal Whiteaker, an inclusive branding expert active on social media. I don’t know either of them, but I really loved Crystal’s suggestions for ways that non-Black Americans can honor the Juneteenth holiday. I am sharing them in their entirety below, and they can be accessed from her Instagram link above.

"Here are some ways to honor Juneteenth...

For my fellow Black Americans, my only advice for you is to prioritize your joy and well-being. Do what feels good for your mind, body, and spirit.

Personally, this year, I have chosen to prioritize my time and energy for people and things that expand, nourish, or compensate me to honor my value of empowerment.

For non-Black Americans, here are some ways you can honor Juneteenth if you haven’t begun to already:

》Learn about the history of Juneteenth and its significance.

》Acknowledge where you have privilege and influence and how it can be used to honor and support Black Americans.

》Support Black owned businesses.

》Pay Black people for their labor. (Think sliding into the Venmo, PayPal, or CashApp accounts of Black creators and educators you regularly consume from on social media. Mine are in my bio.)

》Regularly invest your time in learning about true Black history, beyond glorified Black trauma porn.

》Finally, if you have the day off and plan to host or attend a BBQ or gathering of any kind, I encourage you to open up a discussion about the history of Juneteenth and the impact of systemic oppression on Black Americans. If this seems like too heavy of a topic to bring up at a gathering, I invite you to try to imagine what it’s like to live as a Black person in America, unable to pick and choose how you might be impacted by oppressive white supremacist systems."

Crystal Whiteaker























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Honoring Lives Lost from Gun Violence

“To heal a person, one must first be a person. We are all spiritual beings. Healthcare is a spiritual discipline.”  
— Daniel Sulmalsy MD, PhD,  The Rebirth of the Clinic: An Introduction to Spirituality in Health Care (2006)


It’s hard to find the words and we are struggling with what to say. But how can we not say anything, not acknowledge the shootings, the grief, the tremendous loss, and suffering. 

In continuing our commitment to speak up against injustice, racism, and acts of violence committed against people of color, SWHPN is issuing this statement to acknowledge the grief, loss, and heaviness in the world right now. SWHPN condemns the recent racist attacks in Buffalo, NY, where 10 people were murdered by a white supremacist; the murders of Taiwanese-Americans in a church in Laguna Woods, California; the massacre of 19 schoolchildren and two teachers in Uvalde; the killings at a medical facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma. These are just the acts within communities that made national headlines in the past few weeks. Yet gun violence remains a public health crisis that disproportionately affects Black and Brown communities. As of June 7, 2022, there have been 8,415 gun deaths and 247 mass shootings this year in the United States (1). 



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SWHPN Board Welcomes New Executive Officers

On April 1, 2022, the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN) welcomed new leaders from its current Board members as Executive Officers of the organization. 

Anne Kelemen, LICSW, APHSW-C is the organization's new Chair, having served the past year as Vice-Chair. Danielle Jonas, MSW, LCSW is the organization’s new Vice-Chair, Caitlin Scanlon, MSW, LCSW is the new Secretary, and Tanisha Bowman, MSW, LSW, APHSW-C, CGP, NEDA Proficient is the new Treasurer. Stacy S. Remke, MSW, LICSW, APHSW-C will transition from Chair to Immediate Past Chair. Terms will run through March 31, 2023. 

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Join Us to Support Hospice & Palliative Care in Ukraine

Many of us have been anxiously watching the news from Ukraine and wondering what we can do to help. SWHPN is part of the World Hospice and Palliative Social Workers (WHPCSW.net) community. We are coming together now to support our HAPC colleagues in Ukraine, who are facing a humanitarian emergency through a critical lack of necessary medical supplies for patients in hospices, palliative care settings, and hospitals. These vulnerable patients and their families, as well as healthcare staff, are unable to leave the country while Russia is attacking.
 
SWHPN is collecting donations of funds and ensuring they get distributed to bona fide organizations and NGOs on the ground in Ukraine, Poland and Romania. The WHPCSW is actively helping connect people throughout our network. The head of the Ukrainian Association of Palliative and Hospice Care is asking for donations of needed medical supplies. Our contact in Ireland is planning to buy the supplies and get them to another contact at the Poland/Ukrainian border, and from there, we are working to secure transport to hospices throughout the country. You can help by donating here.

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Advocacy Opportunity: Improving Access to Mental Health Act (S 870/HR 2035)

In March of 2021, the Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2021 was introduced in the House. This bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), and Representative Barbara Lee, MSW (D-CA), will address gaps in services that Clinical Social Workers are able to provide under current law. 

There are 42 cosponsors in the House and 5 in the Senate. Per the NASW advocacy alert, we need at least 175 cosponsors in the House and over 50 in the Senate to demonstrate broad support for this bill and elevate it to potential consideration. It is anticipated that this might be a topic of focus in the coming months due to a recent request from the Senate Finance Committeeabout concerns that every American should be able to access high-quality behavioral health care when needed. 

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Political Palliative Care: Opportunities for Advocacy to Transform Palliative Care

Finding time to keep updated on pending palliative care legislation can be a challenge for busy palliative care practitioners. However, political advocacy work is as important as direct care work, and in some instances, may have the potential to improve lives and decrease suffering on a much larger scale. There is an urgent need to improve equitable access for all people who could benefit from palliative care, especially those who have been unfairly impacted by systemic racism and other forms of oppression in health care. This type of change will require some changes in public policy and laws. The palliative care community can work together to influence these changes through increasing engagement in political palliative care practice. 

Political palliative care is not partisanPolicy advocates view frontline healthcare professionals as important potential contributors for political action and advocacy due to their unique knowledge, proximity, and insight into the lives of the patients they care for. For patients with complex long-term healthcare needs, such as those served in palliative care, this type of practitioner advocacy can help communicate the perspective of a population of patients who may not be as well-equipped to communicate their experiences barriers to care and unmet needs.

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Attention Hospice and Palliative Care Social Workers: There is a need for your voice!

The Congressional Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) Caucus is a bipartisan effort of lawmakers started in July of 2021 to improve approaches for addressing health disparities experienced by persons disproportionately impacted by SDOH and improve well-being. In this effort, the Caucus is seeking comments and feedback from the public on challenges and opportunities related to SDOH by September 21, 2021.  

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Strategies for Avoiding Empathy Fatigue and Developing Emotional Resiliency During the Pandemic

The Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN) applauds the recent decision by the FDA to approve the Pfizer vaccine, Comirnaty, for protection from COVID-19 for people aged 16 and older. The alarming rise in COVID-19 cases over the past several weeks due to the Delta variant is a stark reminder of the serious health threat the virus poses, particularly for the elderly, individuals with underlying medical conditions, and children that cannot yet be vaccinated.

SWHPN strongly encourages all social workers in hospice and palliative care settings to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect themselves, their coworkers, their patients, and their families. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective at mitigating the risk of infection, especially when paired with other scientifically-backed measures like frequent hand washing and mask-wearing. Vaccinated individuals are protecting themselves by reducing the spread of the virus. All SWHPN Staff members are fully vaccinated.

We also know that there are many reasons some people may have for their vaccine hesitancy, including historical health abuses due to race and gender, lack of paid time off, lack of childcare, and disinformation campaigns on television and social media. There are also people who are unable to take the vaccine due to pre-existing conditions, and yet will be safer as more people are vaccinated. We strongly encourage social workers to take steps to enhance vaccine access for everyone, to ensure we achieve the goal of herd immunity as quickly as possible. 

Finally, we know that navigating ERs and ICUs that are filling with patients that need critical medical support, tending to families that cannot visit in-person, and helping hospital colleagues that are fatigued and stressed can lead to empathy fatigue. We hope that you are finding ways to build up your own reservoir of emotional resilience and taking breaks when you can to recharge.
If you are looking for ideas, or have some tried-and-true tips to share, we invite you to join us for our next CE webinar, an interactive conversation on Tuesday, September 14 at 5 pm EST / 2 pm PST, “Strategies for Avoiding Empathy Fatigue and Developing Emotional Resiliency During the Pandemic.” Registration is here. Current SWHPN Members can attend free of charge. 
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Student Committee Update: Supporting SWHPN’s Student Members

Next up in our new series looking at the activities of the various SWHPN committees is the Student Committee. We started this committee in late spring 2020, as a way to provide additional support focused on our SWHPN student members, especially during the pandemic. The committee is comprised of Board members and SWHPN members, some of whom teach BSW- and MSW-level students, as well as several people who are either getting their PhDs or have recently completed this process. The committee is chaired by Dr. Stephanie Wladkowski, PhD, LMSW, ACHP-SW, Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at Eastern Michigan University.

In this past year, the committee has created and led six webinars, from tips for making the most of your field placement and finding a job, to learning more about the benefits of pursuing an MSW, DSW, and/or PhD, to learning how to lead a team meeting effectively. Collectively, these sessions reached hundreds of social work students, educating them about the field of hospice and palliative care, a specialization that few colleges and universities offer.

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Professional Development and Leadership for Palliative & Hospice Social Workers: Report on the APHSW Certification Program

Since the APHSW-C Program started in 2019, approximately 500 social workers have become APHSW-C! We had an incredible start for the first exam periods. The pandemic has made things more difficult with limited test sites since last winter/spring. However, now most test sites are open and ready to provide exams.

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SWHPN Strategic Engagement Committee Update: Building Connections & Advancing Social Work in HAPC

Beginning this week, SWHPN will begin posting weekly updates from our committees, to highlight the important work each is doing to help advance the organization’s mission. This series is being launched by our Strategic Engagement committee, and the following was written by Jennifer Hirsch, LMSW and PhD candidate.

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SWHPN Receives Grant from ANF to Develop Grief Resources

To help address complex trauma resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, five leading organizations are collaborating to offer free innovative resources for frontline providers on grief education. The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation (HPNF), the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA), the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN), the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC), and the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) have received a grant from the American Nurses Foundation (ANF) to produce Dealing with GRIEF: A Series of 5 Short, Powerful Videos.

Caring for the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs of patients and their families is a demanding vocation in typical times, and this initiative aims to provide timely and practical information during an unprecedented time. Research has also shown that a significant number of frontline providers, at all levels, exhibit secondary traumatic stress, bereavement, compassion fatigue, and burnout.

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SWHPN Announces Seven New Board Members

SWHPN held elections for its Board of Directors in March 2021 and is excited to announce the addition of seven new members. Read the full press release here.

Tanisha Bowman, MSW, LSW, APHSW-C, a native of the Northern Virginia area, first attended Northern Virginia Community College where she earned her associate's degree in social science with a Deaf specialization, as well as a career studies certificate in American Sign Language. She then went on to graduate in May 2015 from George Mason University with her BSW. Following her graduation from GMU, Tanisha moved to Pittsburgh where she earned her MSW at the University of Pittsburgh, graduating in December of 2016. After graduation, Tanisha completed a Death and Dying fellowship through the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and accepted a position at UPMC as an ICU social worker. Tanisha currently works as a supportive and palliative care social worker at UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside where she is a member of the palliative care section’s anti-racism and social justice committee. 
Tanisha brings with her 5 years of board experience as a former NASW state chapter board member, has multiple race in social work and race in medicine presentations under her belt, and can often be found engaging in various threads within the medical, social work, and hospice and palliative Twitter communities. In her spare time, Tanisha sews her own clothes and gets lots of hugs from her 10-month-old baby girl.

Lori Eckel, LCSW, APHSW-C is the lead palliative care social worker and the senior ethics consultant at Legacy Health.  She received her MSW from Portland State University School of Social Work, completed advanced clinical training in palliative care from Smith School of Social Work, and completed the Zelda Foster Palliative Care Leadership Fellowship at NYU School of Social Work. Lori currently serves as an adviser and mentor for participants in both the Smith and NYU’s Zelda Foster programs. Her palliative care clinical social work has been focused in critical care and oncology and she has worked in both inpatient and outpatient settings. She serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Social Work in End of Life and Palliative Care.  In her ethics role, she oversees the ethics consultation service, co-leads review and development of ethically relevant institutional policies, and supports the continuing ethics education activities at Legacy Health. Lori appreciates opportunities to contribute to the well-being of health professionals, teaching students, and mentoring others in the field of palliative care. She has presented locally and nationally on topics related to advance care planning, moral distress, and ethical dimensions of end-of-life care.

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SWHPN Statement Against Anti-Asian Racism

In continuing with our work to speak up and challenge social injustice, SWHPN is issuing this statement condemning the hateful attacks against Asians, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders. We have seen a rise in verbal and physical violence in cities across the United States because of anti-Asian racism following the COVID-19 pandemic (Ruiz, Horowitz, Tamir, 2020; Jeung, Yellow Horse, Popovic, Lin, 2021). In the murders of Korean-Americans on March 16th in Atlanta, we saw the twin biases of sexism and racism that Asian women, in particular, have been victims of in our societal structure of white patriarchy. Affirming our social work values, we explicitly reject all forms of racism, xenophobia, and nativism, and stand with our Asian-American victims of violence and hate. By doing so, we also acknowledge that the struggles of Asian-Americans are inextricably linked with other BIPOC communities in a common endeavor for the humanity of this country. We uphold the inherent dignity and worth of each person and challenge others to join us in working against anti-Asian violence.

We recognize that our statement must be followed with action. Understanding our positionality and respecting the vanguard role of the Asian-American community, we want to use this opportunity to highlight the work being done by our Asian American Social Workers, and advocacy groups like Asian Americans Advancing Justice and Stop AAPI Hate (@stopAAPIHate on Twitter). The Atlanta branch of the Asian Americans Advancing Justice released a very powerful statement earlier today that we encourage you to read, and amplify and donate if possible. The Chicago branch is holding a series of bystander intervention trainings during April that SWHPN staff will be participating in, and we encourage you to sign up (also available here, through ihollaback.org).

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Recent legislation includes hospice and palliative care social work as part of interdisciplinary survey team

On December 27, 2020, H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 became public law. This 5,593-page year-end legislative package included a policy provision which should be of interest to hospice and palliative care social workers. Part of the “Helping Our Senior Population in Comfort Environments Act”, also known as the HOSPICE Act H.R. 5821is a requirement for survey and enforcement procedures to improve consistency and oversight for hospice programs. 

Federal oversight of hospice programs is not a new development. The Hospice Quality Reporting Program (HQRP), established in 2010 with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, mandated quality reporting requirements for hospice programs. Since that time, to provide transparency to consumers and improve care to hospice patients, hospices have been required to both measure and report quality care measures. The Hospice Act differs from the HQRP, in that it provides more detail about surveyor training, the survey process, and intermediate sanctions for hospices.  Surveys will continue to be required every 36 months and if there is more than one surveyor (required to be a nurse), it can be conducted by other members of the interdisciplinary team. The interdisciplinary surveyor team is an important opportunity for hospice social workers, in that it includes for the first time, the potential for professional social work oversight to be included in a Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) hospice survey. 

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Cambia Health Foundation 2021 Sojourns® Scholar Leadership Program

The Cambia Health Foundation has opened its 2021 Sojourns® Scholar Leadership Program Call for Applications and encourages palliative care professionals from across the country, including all disciplines and practice settings to apply.

The Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program is designed to identify, cultivate and advance the next generation of palliative care leaders. As part of the leadership program, each Sojourns Scholar receives $180,000 in funding ($90,000/year over a two-year period) to conduct an innovative and impactful clinical, policy, educational, health equity or systems change project in the field of palliative care. Scholars also participate with other scholars in a collaborative learning community while receiving individual mentorship to design and implement a development plan that supports their growth as national palliative care leaders.

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Three Social Workers Named 2020 Cambia Health Foundation Sojourns® Scholars

SWHPN is thrilled to announce that three social workers have been announced as part of the seventh cohort of the Cambia Health Foundation’s Sojourns® Scholar Leadership Program. 

Cara L. Wallace, PhD, LMSW, APHSW-C of Saint Louis University; Rachel Rusch, LCSW, MSW, MA of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; and SWHPN Board Member Stephanie P. Wladkowski, PhD, LMSW, APHSW-C of Eastern Michigan University were each carefully chosen through a rigorous selection process from a highly competitive pool. SWHPN is proud of their commitment to improving the experience of people facing serious illness and their caregivers. 

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SWHPN Condemns Riots at U.S. Capitol Building

Watching the events from yesterday unfold, and then reading many responses on social media and in major news and journalistic outlets, we at SWHPN feel the need to reflect and respond. As an organization, we obviously strongly condemn the insurrectionist riot that occurred at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. and at statehouses around the country.

While social justice and self-determination are pillars of social work, what happened yesterday was an attempt by a group of nearly all-white people to compel their desired election result over the expressed wishes of millions of Americans who voted differently. Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are guaranteed rights, but breaking windows and doors to enter Congress for the sole purpose to cause havoc and delay a procedural process to certify the President is not.

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SWHPN Statement on Changes to Social Work Code of Conduct in Texas

On Monday, October 12, the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners changed the section of its code of conduct that establishes when a social worker may or may not deny services, to remove previous language specifying that discrimination based on disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity constitutes a violation of the code of conduct for Social Workers in Texas. The removal of these specifications puts the Texas code of conduct in contrast with existing social work principles, ethical guidelines for practice, and federal anti-discrimination mandates by allowing for discrimination based on disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. 

The Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN) is horrified and dismayed by these changes, and condemns them in the strongest terms possible. This action explicitly violates the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics Section 4.02:

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