In March, Heart & Science joins with our Social Work and Nutrition colleagues to celebrate National Social Worker and National Nutrition Month. Thank you for your collaboration and contributions to the care of patients and their families and for your colleagueship!

Arden O’Donnell, MPH, MSW, LICSW

From left: Donna DeNapoli Champagne with her friend and colleague Claire Welch.

From left: Donna DeNapoli Champagne with her friend and colleague Claire Welch.

For 15 years, social worker Donna DeNapoli Champagne, MSW, LICSW, considered the Brigham her second home. And now, as a patient in the MICU, her former colleagues are not only a part of her extended family, but have become her clinical team.

Social workers wear many hats—from counselor to advocate, compassionate friend to truth-teller. They help patients and their families deal with the myriad of emotions accompanying illness and injury. We depend on them to show up in the most difficult moments. For 15 years while practicing at BWH, Champagne did just this. She was known for her compassion, her ability to have direct conversations with patients and her advocacy skills. As a patient, these are the same traits she now appreciates in her caregivers.

Her tenacity as a social worker is not unlike her tenacity as a patient. She’s a fighter who has defied the odds over and over. But still, she reminds us: “It is difficult being a patient. There is so much about illness that is very lonely. When you are a patient, you are dependent on everyone for everything—from [the technical], like getting suctioned to emotional closeness. Sometimes my nurse or social worker comes in, and I just want to take her hand and hold onto it. I need that human connection.”

In March, as a part of National Social Worker Month, we honor social workers, past and present, who have worked at Brigham and Women’s  Hospital and brought compassion and heart to the patients and teams with whom they work.