The first thing Mary Maoh, the indispensable social worker of Holy Family Hospital, does in the mornings when she comes to work is to visit the newborn babies in the nursery and in the intensive care unit.
“The babies are all like a gift, I see life in them,” said the 31-year-old Bethlehem University social work school graduate, as she sat in her office where the hospital’s neediest patients come seeking counseling and financial assistance.
There are a limited number of maternity social workers working in Palestinian hospitals, noted Maoh, a native of Bethlehem, who has been working at Holy Family Hospital since 2001. She feels blessed that she is able to work at her dream job.
“Ever since I was in school I have liked to help people and my dream was to work in a maternity hospital,” she said. “I like to help pregnant women and I like babies. I am very lucky to work here.”
“I like to help pregnant women and I like babies, I am very lucky to work here.”
Perhaps one of the best known faces at the hospital, Maoh moves with confidence amongst the patients and staff members, lending an attentive ear to both while paying special attention to the needs of the youngest and most vulnerable. Her daily schedule includes checking with the staff members in the nursery and the intensive care unit on the conditions of the babies, hearing about any new admissions who may need assistance. She speaks to the delivery ward to check if there are any needy women due to deliver whom she should be in contact with after their delivery and then goes to speak to the hospital cashier to see if there were any discharged patients who had difficulty paying their bills.
The best part of her job, said Maoh, is to be able to counsel women about their rights and help them learn how to receive proper medical care in addition to what they need during this most precious time in their lives from their husbands and families. Coming from a traditional society, many times the husbands expect much from their wives with no regard to their special needs during pregnancy and as mothers of their children, Maoh noted.
“Through counseling I help the husbands realize that their wives need to have their rights too; that their wives are precious and the husband needs to respect that,” she said. “We also talk about this subject in our awareness course.”
The hardest part of her work is trying to meet the financial needs of all the needy patients who come to her door. Financial assistance is limited, she said, and she is the first link in the chain which determines which of the patients are truly in need of assistance. Most patients are asked to pay some minimal amount of their bill to maintain the dignity of the patient, she explained.
“I am living in this society and I know the people very well,” she said of her ability to talk to the patients and help determine how much financial assistance if any the patients need.
Sometimes it is emotionally difficult to cope with the more difficult cases, she admitted, but she always goes to sleep telling herself that tomorrow will be better.
At some point in the future she would like to study for her Master’s Degree in social work, said Maoh, but for now she is happy with what she is doing at the hospital.
“I have a special relationship with the hospital,” she said with her trademark wide smile. “I think I still have something to give to people.”