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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Social Service Department of the Vancouver General Hospital : its history and development, 1902-1949 Collier, Elizabeth Anne


This study portrays the Social Service Department of the Vancouver General Hospital from the first days of its institution under the Women's Auxiliary, through the course of its growth to the present time. The history has been divided into three periods; the first, under the Women's Auxiliary; the second, after integration into the hospital administrative structure, and the introduction of trained workers; and finally, the present organization. An evaluation and comparison by standards has been included, together with suggestions for improvement of existing services. The Vancouver General Hospital has consistently maintained an "A" rating for medical service to patients. The Social Service Department is only one of the services offered by the hospital, and is not yet recognized as an essential component of the medical team. The study of its development explains the nature of the traditional ties from which the department is endeavoring to emancipate itself. The present policy is to build a gradually strengthening base upon which a truly professional service will be recognized, appreciated and sought. In order to obtain a picture as complete as possible, early documents, reports, records and files, both from the Hospital and from the Women’s Auxiliary, have been studied. Information was also secured from interviews with persons concerned with the department in the past and present. The existing department has been studied by personal observation and through contacts made while working in this setting. Inadequacies and problems which hamper the service have been revealed in the study, but also, there is indication that the department is healthily aware of these, and is planning its future with care. There is room for much interpretation of the profession of social work to the medical and administrative staff, and to the community, in order that full understanding and support may be obtained. Likewise, doubled staff will be required before the department will be able to operate as it would wish. There is a cumbersome involvement with administrative and clerical duties, particularly in Outpatients' Department, which will need to be eliminated before the staff may be free to perform its casework function.

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