Sophia Provides Support

April 10, 2017

In a single hour social worker Sophia Mustaklem shifts gears from securing a cancer patient’s hospice care to bidding farewell to a recovering gunshot victim.

She considers both tasks equal triumphs.

In the case of the cancer patient, she is moving closer to her church family and friends. And the gunshot victim is getting much-needed home healthcare. “In social work we wear many hats to help people in different stages,” said Mustaklem, who has worked at IU Health University Hospital for the past six months.

Wearing a bright pink dress, she races through the hallways, her braided pigtail trailing down the front of her hospital-issued lab coat. “I like to wear bright colors and I like to interact with the staff as well as the patients. You never know what they are experiencing on any given day,” said Mustaklem, her engaging personality evident with every word. “If a patient dies, it’s like family. The nurses and doctors have formed a bond and we all want to honor that in a respectful way.”

A bad day for her is when she can’t wave a magic wand and give patients what they desperately want – a cure for cancer, a transplant, or good news. An anxious day for her is when she has to pass a patient along to another social agency such as protective services, and she goes to sleep at night wondering if they are safe.

A good day is when she can honor a patient’s wishes – secure hospice or home healthcare. This would be one of those good days.

“When I first job-shadowed my mentor at Methodist Hospital, I said ‘I love social work but I don’t think I’ll ever work in a hospital,’” said Mustaklem. “And here I am and I love it. People come from all over to see our doctors and I am happy to be part of that care team.”

-- By T.J. Banes

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