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Jonathan Spodick, LCSW

The Adult Sickle Cell Program at Yale New Haven Hospital, led by Dr. John Roberts, has become a model of care for other programs in the country because of its combined inpatient and outpatient resources for its patients. Jonathan Spodick, LCSW, is dedicated to working with sickle cell patients in the outpatient clinic on NP7. In 2012, a project to rebuild the Sickle Cell Program was initiated, and Jonathan, at that time working in the Emergency Department (ED) at YNHH, jumped at the chance to fill the new position. One of two full time social workers-the other one inpatient-his goal is to meet with roughly 24 patients a week.

Patients with sickle cell disease face many unique challenges, one of them often being housing. In order to establish consistent medical care, a stable home must first be found, and Jonathan assists his patients with this, along with getting healthcare coverage and transportation. The nature of the disease requires patients to come to the clinic frequently, many as often as every other week, and a lot have been coming since birth. Therefore, Jonathan gets to know his patients and is able to build a relationship based on trust.

"I have not been inspired by anyone as much as individuals living with sickle cell disease," said Jonathan. "They epitomize strength and perseverance. They're born with this terrible disease and they deal with it throughout their entire lives without giving in or giving up."

Jonathan commented that they are always looking for ways to better the program, and include the patients in the conversation. One study was recently presented at the Patient Experience Conference looking at laptop use while receiving treatment and during hospitalization. Sickle cell disease is associated with constant pain. Laptops were provided to try and refocus their minds away from the pain, and encourage the patients to get back out into their communities and to spend time with their families.

The Sickle Cell Program has seen amazing results from their multidisciplinary initiatives; ED visits are down, inpatient visits and length of stay have decreased, and there has been an increase in outpatient utilization of resources. Dr. Roberts commented, "Our patients have both medical and social emergencies. Jonathan brings strong insight and profound calmness to both our patients and our team. It is a pleasure to have him as a colleague."

Bonnie Indeck, LCSW, and Manager of Oncology Social Work at Smilow Cancer Hospital commented, "Jonathan is a well-respected member of the sickle cell team. He works on projects that advocate for the rights of this population and together with the collaboration of community agencies, these patients have benefitted from his and the team member's work. Jonathan is praised by both his social work colleagues as well as other clinicians, but mostly by his patients who feel so cared for by his expertise."