The first Department of Social Work was established at the University Hospital in October 1919. The model for medical social work was influenced by two outstanding women of the times, Ida Cannon, a public health nurse and social worker and Mary E. Richman, a social worker and the author of "The Good Neighbor" and "Social Diagnosis"

Early pioneers at University of Maryland believed that all admissions should go through the hospital via the Department of Social Work to receive the benefits of preventive medicine. The social workers provided one hundred percent follow-up and home visits to all patients seen and discharged from the hospital. The goal was to prevent a recurrence of the illness and, subsequently, a readmission to the hospital.

In 1922 the seed and foundation for professionalism were planted and deeply rooted during this period and some very valid accomplishments were implemented such as:

  • Teaching programs in which the student nurses and the social workers interacted, each experiencing the other's role.

  • Admissions to the hospital were enhanced by methods of 100% screening employed by social workers to identify patient problems.

  • Discharge planning and follow-up were instituted.

  • Quality assurance was enhanced by social worker notes being incorporated in the medical charts.

  • Library services were established in the Department of Social Work.

  • Casework discussions were initiated and held every two weeks.

  • All members of the Department of Social Work joined the American Association of Hospital Social Workers.

  • Good relations were established with community agencies to enhance discharge resources and placements.

In 1937, a committee (Dispensary Committee) was formed at the suggestion of the superintendent of the hospital. The purpose of the committee was to conduct a study to accomplish the following:

  • Revamp the entire Department of Social Work.

  • Seek funds directly to establish a "first class" Department of Social Work.

  • Develop ways to enable the social worker to take extension courses in the Department of Sociology.

  • Work towards the establishment of a School of Social Work.

From 1950 through 1957, the Department of Social Work maintained it's structure while awaiting the time when the hospital administration would act on the recommendation (by the Dispensary Committee) for the establishment of a first class department.

In 1957, the Department of Social Work continued its journey toward professionalism with the appointment of its first master degreed professional director of social work. From 1967 to 1979 the department increased in size and many policies, programs and procedures were established.

From 1979 to 1995 the director was charged with bringing the department into the forefront for providing leadership regarding discharge planning, disposition planning, and establishing hospital wide policies/procedures which improve patient care. An important role of the director was to establish a closer liaison with the School of Social Work to broaden the scope of the department's staff development, research, and teaching (Field Instruction) program.

From 1995 until the present, the department has continued to evolve with a focus on patient and family education, patient and family adjustment to illness, supportive counseling and strengthening community networks to enhance community discharge planning.

In 1997, the community component of the Department of Social Work was formally established. Traditional social work services and social work case management are provided at the Medical System's two UCARE sites located in the northwest Baltimore community. The community focus provides the opportunity for social workers to: better assist patients and their families to identify and access community resources; become key figures in educating and advocating for patients; and become on-site leaders and participants in the community arena that frequently drives policy and service decisions.

The department also completed goals such as broadening its scope to include over site of Palliative Care, Pastoral Care Services, and The Patient Advocacy Departments as well as developing and implementing a hospital wide palliative care program.

Education, professional development and research underpin the department's commitment to excellence in medical social work, both administrative and clinical. The department continues to focus on social functioning and recognition of the relationship between social and emotional factors that impact illness.

While the nature and philosophy of services of the Department of Social Work have not changed since its inception, the functions and scope of services have been evolving and expanding. The Department of Social Work's role and responsibilities are more varied and the department is now an established and integral part of the multidisciplinary health care system at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

For patient inquiries or to make an appointment, call 1-800-492-5538.