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SWHPN Highlights Former Board Members

We wanted to give a shout-out of recognition to several of SWHPN's Board members who are doing some amazing work!

Myra Glajchen, DSW, MSW, BSW, ACSW, APHSW-C

Dr. Myra Glajchen is the 2022 recipient of the Hyman J. Weiner Leadership Award. This award honors a member of the Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care who possesses outstanding qualities as a teacher, scholar, advocate, change agent and humorous and compassionate person. Candidates are selected for their demonstration of these qualities, as well as for their excellence in the advancement of the practice of social
work in health care settings.

Susan Enguidanos, Phd, MPH, worked with an interdisciplinary team (including current Board member. Dr. Danetta Sloan!) across several organizations including the American Thoracic Society (ATS) of a policy statement that advocates for improved integration of high-quality palliative care early in the care continuum for patients with serious respiratory illness and their caregivers. The guide also provides clinicians and policymakers with a framework to accomplish this important work. Read more about this incredible example of multidisciplinary collaboration here.

Supporting the "Improve Access to Advance Care Planning Act", from the Billing and Reimbursement SIG

We are excited about the introduction of HR 8840/S4873 Improve Access to Advance Care Planning Act. We applaud Rep. Blumenauer, Sen. Collins, Sen. Warner, Sen. Collins and Sen. Klobuchar for proposing this bill.

This bill improves access to advance care planning (ACP) in multiple ways, and improved access is better for value-based health care. ACP conversations are important voluntary conversations that engage patients in sharing their values, goals, and preferences regarding future medical care. Advance care planning is associated with documentation of values and preferences, patient and surrogate satisfaction with communication, and positive surrogate outcomes such as caregiver burden and distress (1). Allowing for billing of ACP incentivizes the health care system to engage in this beneficial practice, and thus far these codes are considered somewhat underutilized.

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Town Hall for SWHPN Members - Join us!

SWHPN has been one of the leading voices challenging the ASWB's approach to discussing racism in testing for licensing social workers. We've done this through several official statements, as shared on our blog last month. What more should SWHPN be doing to address these issues? What additional actions would be helpful?

We would like to invite our members to join us on Friday, October 7, from 1-2 pm EST / 10 am-11 am PST for a member-only Town Hall Meeting. At this event, several SWHPN Board members will be leading a conversation discussing our actions challenging the ASWB’s latest report, and what additional work we are taking on to challenge racism in the hospice and palliative care field. We hope you can join us for this lively and engaging conversation, and help us become more involved
! To register for the Town Hall, click here.

APHSW-C Announces Transition to the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center (HPCC)

The Advanced Palliative and Social Work Certification Board of Directors is excited to announce the transition of the APHSW-C program to the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center (HPCC). The APHSW-C program will join the five hospice and palliative care programs within the HPCC certification portfolio. 

“Because hospice and palliative care are interprofessional and team-based, it only makes sense that the professions should join in their efforts to develop and maintain certification of the involved specialties,” said Barbara Head, PhD, CHPN, ACSW, FPCN, APHSW-C, a member of the APHSW Board of Directors. “I am excited about the synergy that will result when we join forces in this important endeavor.”

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SWHPN responds to McWhorter's NYT op-ed

We, the board members of the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN) recently made a statement in response to the demographic data released by the Association of the Social Work Boards (ASWB). We noted our concern about the inevitable inherent racial bias embedded in the exam. Representing an organization of social workers working to bring humanity to serious illness and end-of-life care, we continue to reflect on ways to challenge the systems that deny and defy the basic humanity in all of us. It is in this endeavor that we respond to the recent New York Times opinion piece written by John McWhorter

In his opinion piece, Mr. McWhorter takes issue with the protest against the ASWB exam as racist. He points to the petition on Change.org and derides it for not sufficiently explaining why the tests are racist. Whether or not you believe the assertion that the test is racist depends on whether or not you believe the educational system in the United States, from preschool to graduate school, is embedded in a racist system and is infused with racist practices. There has been sufficient research data that support the fact that there are “categorical inequalities between Black and white students” in disciplinary policies, access to advanced courses, assignment to gifted and talented and special needs programs, and in practices of racialized tracking. The truth is that 68 years since the US Supreme Court ruling in Brown v Board of Education, high levels of racial and economic segregation persist in most metropolitan areas and with it, disparities in education. 

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SWHPN's statement in response to the ASWB report

The Social Work and Hospice Care Network (SWHPN) is compelled to issue this statement in response to the demographic data released by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) on the racial composition of social workers passing the licensure exams.

SWHPN applauds the dissemination of this important data, and we are deeply troubled by it. We, like many social work organizations during the past few years, have proclaimed our outrage at the structures of white privilege and our commitment to racial justice in our profession and the larger society. It is in this context that we express profound alarm and dismay at learning of the low pass rates of our Black colleagues on the licensure exams. We believe that this data is the product of the implicit racial bias embedded in the ASWB exam -- a bias that is pernicious and pervasive throughout the education and practice institutions of the United States. Immeasurable injury is exacted to our profession when the ASWB exams prescribe ideas of a "knowledge" that is steeped in dominant white cultural values and ways of knowing. There are no tools of racism and colonialism more powerful than pedagogy and epistemology. SWHPN refuses to remain complicit in perpetuating such systems of racism. To that end, we commit ourselves to the following actions:

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Update on SWHPN's anti-racism work

Hello SWHPN Members! On behalf of the SWHPN Board and staff, we hope you are enjoying a relaxing and safe summer. At the 2022 Conference, we extended our commitment to enhanced communications and transparency with our members. We hope you have enjoyed the new monthly Membership newsletter which came out last week, as well as our first Advocacy and Policy newsletter.  It was developed in conjunction with several Board members, and is generously supported by Healthsperian, a Washington DC-based company that provides healthcare advocacy on behalf of non-profits across the country; they are providing this to SWHPN free of charge to help our members stay abreast of policy issues that may impact our field, and have been supporters of SWHPN conferences for a number of years.

Additionally, we are working to write more regular blog posts, to provide more opportunities to gather feedback from members, and to develop new member benefits, including leadership and professional development opportunities. We also want to make sure our members stay up-to-date on what is happening behind the scenes with the Board and staff as we take on our own development to transform the organization into an anti-racist, inclusive space. 

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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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A note from the 2022 SWHPN Executive Committee

Dear Members,

We are thrilled to welcome you to the 2022 SWHPN Annual Assembly in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It’s so nice to finally meet in person and we hope you enjoy your time connecting with colleagues you haven’t seen since 2019. 

It’s been an unprecedented two years with the pandemic, murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and too many other Black and Brown people, social unrest, and the war in the Ukraine. In reflecting on this year’s theme, “Looking forward & back: celebrating our history and the future of hospice and palliative care social work,” we’re struck by the word “celebrate.” While there is a lot that we are proud of in this field, and proud 
of SWHPN as an organization, it’s a difficult time to “celebrate” when we are aware of our roots in white supremacy and anti-Blackness. As an organization, SWHPN is dedicated to cultivating a sustainable community rooted in belonging and justice. An important part of this is to own our past and move through a period of disruption and discomfort. To develop new ways of working to ensure we do not perpetuate harm to historically marginalized and excluded communities, including our colleagues in hospice and palliative care. 

In Alicia Elliott’s memoir, A Mind Spread Out on the Ground, Elliott, a Mohawk writer, reflects on her childhood growing up on a reservation in Ontario, Canada:

“Perhaps one day this neighborhood, this city, this country will finally hear its neglected past whispering. Look at me plainly. Look at me. Look at your patterns. Don’t make the same mistakes. Don’t hide who you were. Acknowledge it, then make something new, something beautiful, something that will make everyone proud.” (Elliott, Pg. 57)

SWHPN is in the process of reflecting on its patterns, its history – so we can acknowledge where we have colluded with oppressive structures, so we can stop making the same mistakes, and make something new.  We have committed the human and financial resources necessary to help us identify our patterns and plan for a more equitable future. As the history of systemic racism and oppression within the medical system begins to be acknowledged and addressed, we as social workers need to look at ourselves as individuals and at social work as a profession. As a profession that is rooted in “nice” whiteness, we need to question its role in proliferating power structures and imagine a new future. In 2022-2023 and beyond, my hope for SWHPN, to borrow from Elliott’s words, is that we not only “hear the neglected past whispers” but actively work to turn whispers into trumpets to address systemic racism. 

Acknowledge the neglected whispers of the past
Make something new
Something beautiful 
Something that will make everyone proud (A. Elliott)

We look forward to seeing what SWHPN will create together, in 2022 and for many more years. Jessica Strong, Executive Director, will share more about these exciting updates. 

SWHPN Executive Committee:
Anne Kelemen, LICSW, APHSW-C, Chair 
Danielle Jonas, LCSW, Vice Chair
Caitlin Scanlon, LCSW, Secretary/Treasurer 
Stacy Remke, LICSW, APHSW-C, Past Chair 

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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