Tearing Down Barriers To Build Better Lives

Fairview social workers make connections that improve quality of life.

Social workers Diane Knust and Sandy McGurran

While "work" may be in their job title, social workers Diane Knust and Sandy McGurran are quick to explain that what they do is more than that. To Sandy, "it's a vocation of service and advocacy." To Diane, "it's our calling." 

Social workers are an important part of almost every setting across Fairview, from hospitals and clinics to senior living, home care and hospice. Their tasks each day are as different as the people, and situations, they're called to serve.

“We use a paintbrush and pickax,” Sandy says. “We come to each situation with a sense of artistry, digging deep to get to know each family, learning their history and partnering with them to understand where they need help. Then we figure out how to access programs and support services they didn’t know existed and connect them to those services.” 

More simply, Diane says, “We give people hope.” 

Diane supports a Home Care and Hospice team that cares for children with serious illnesses and their families. The goal is to help them in the hospital, at home and through all their follow-up care to improve their quality of life.

She works with families who have spent several weeks, and sometimes months, with a new baby in the NICU. The family may not have even been home during that time. “These families are amazing and show incredible resilience in the face of their situations, which are constantly changing.” 

“I make sure that they have what they need to keep life going at home, including making sure there is money to pay the bills,” Diane says. “I’m supporting and creating a bridge back to living at home.” That work can mean anything from helping them get a birth certificate to finding funds to cover utilities.

Once the family is back at home, Diane continues to work with them, coordinating medical appointments and working with school districts to direct resources to kids who face lasting developmental challenges. “At home there is a different set of needs. We make sure they have the support to thrive.”

"I work with people who say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that’s what social workers did.’ It’s a great feeling, and hopefully, more people will understand our role and request the help of a social worker when they need us.”

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