2016 Award for Excellence in Social Work
Kathryn Voelkner, MSW, is the recipient of the 2016 Beverly Jean Howard Award for Excellence in Social Work
Nominated by: Laura Hirshbein & Laura Nitzberg
Kathi is a skilled and talented clinician and has worked in many areas in the Department of Social Work. She is an empathetic, gifted clinician who radiates kindness and empathy. She is able to engage with a wide range of patients and handles angry, frightened families with sensitivity. She is very knowledgeable about psychiatric illness and is seen as an expert by medical students, psychiatric residents, attending psychiatrists, and her social work colleagues. Her calm and engaging personality traits endear her to everybody on the treatment team. She is the “go-to” person about discharge planning, legal challenges pertaining to commitment, and other complicated systems issues. She is in many ways the glue of the inpatient unit and the respect she commands is impressive.
Kathi has been a leader in quality improvement on the inpatient unit. She has streamlined the direct admission process, led initiatives to improve the discharge process, spearheaded changes in follow-up care for acutely ill patients after discharge from the hospital, and coordinated with other hospitals to gather information that might help us further improve. People seek her out to join these important task forces because of their respect for her multiple talents and considerable expertise.
Kathi presented on the Lean Project at the Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care Conference in California. She has presented at state NASW conferences. Two of her quality boards were accepted for display in our health system. She is co-chair of the Social Work Quality Committee and was recently asked to join the Psychiatry Quality Committee.
She has been a stellar supervisor of social work interns, as well as having taught medical students and residents. Our chairperson regularly consults her about care systems and care management, and all of us on the inpatient unit look to her when we have a challenging situation.