Celebrating Social Work Month at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

At Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System, multidisciplinary teams of cancer experts provide patients with the most advanced diagnostics and targeted treatments available in South Florida. In addition to world-class cancer care, Sylvester also offers patients and families support that goes beyond physical treatment.

This month, Sylvester celebrates Social Work Month, honoring the group of dedicated professionals who help cancer patients and their families cope with difficulties related to cancer and treatment. These can include emotional distress or finding community resources such as transportation and financial assistance, to name a few. Social workers can assist with a broad range of issues to help remove barriers to care.

Each day, Vanessa Ruiz, one of eight licensed clinical social workers at Sylvester, supports an average of eight to 10 patients across the continuum of care.

“Some of the patients and their families need emotional support,” she said, “yet others don’t know how to pay for medications or home care. And while we can’t solve every single problem, we support our patients as much as we can. They are already going through cancer treatment, which is never easy, and we want them to know they have the support they need.”

According to the National Association of Social Workers, social workers are the largest group of mental health care providers in the United States. Each social worker in the state of Florida is required to have two years of on-the-job training after graduation to receive a license, which is issued by the Florida Department of Health.

“We are tremendously grateful to the group of extraordinary social workers we have at Sylvester, and I know our patients feel the same way,” said Lazara Pagan, Chief Operating Officer at Sylvester. “Their work integrates with that of our clinicians and nurses. We wouldn’t be able to provide the outstanding patient care and support without them.”

To contact a Sylvester social worker, call 305-243-4129.

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