Jamie Brauley, LISW

Everyday Hero Flies Under the Radar in the ED

Brauley (left) with Laura Monhollen, MSW, LISW-S, senior clinical director, Social Services.

Jamie Brauley, a licensed independent social worker in the Burnet Campus Emergency Department, was selected as the winner of this year’s Ann Brandner Award for Excellence in Social Work. It’s an honor she accepted humbly, which is how she approaches everything in life.

“I hesitate to tell my story because it’s sad,” she says. “The kids I see have been through trauma and abuse. I see suicide attempts, drownings, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, kids who’ve been in motor vehicle accidents, kids with gunshot wounds. It’s very heavy stuff.”

Brauley has been at Cincinnati Children’s for 27 years, working in multiple areas—Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, the Pediatric Primary Care Center and the ED, where she’s spent the most time (16 years).

She’s part of the 24/7 Team, a core group of seven or eight social workers whose job is to manage the house.

“We are on site around the clock, even during COVID,” she says. “Our responsibility is to handle the trauma and abuse cases, as well as difficult family situations. Although we do our best, wearing our masks and social distancing when we can, we haven’t always been able to follow the protocols to the letter. When a child is dying or dead in the trauma bay, we’re holding the mom as she’s falling on the floor. We’re in the midst of grief, doing the work that needs to be done. Death and dying didn’t stop because of COVID, and neither could we.”

Brauley is fiercely dedicated to helping patients and families and advocates for them at every turn.

“Poverty, pain and abuse are chronic illnesses, and they don’t get the same attention or funding as diseases like cancer or diabetes, but they are just as gut-wrenching,” says Brauley. “The impoverished kids at Hopple Street and the PPC need resources too.”

Unlike her colleagues in other divisions, Brauley does not have the opportunity to establish relationships with her patients and families. “My work is very acute,” she explains. “I only see patients once for a few hours. I get to develop rapport, but probably not relationships. I need to assess very quickly what’s in front of me—why is this child bruised? What happened? Who did it? Is the child safe? What do they need? My role is to make sure the child goes home as safely as they can that night.”

Brauley says she didn’t worry about being exposed to COVID or the risk it could pose.

“People who work in the ED are trained to run toward the fire instead of away from it,” she explains. “I did feel better though when we got the vaccine here. We’ve been working with germs forever in the ED and have probably been exposed to all kinds of things over the years.”

Jamie Brauley, LISW

What Colleagues Are Saying about Jamie Brauley, LISW

“Jamie doesn’t do this work for her own personal gain but because this world isn’t perfect and it needs someone like her to support the greater good. She listens, provides hope, cheers us on through the hard cases and is our source of support on the days we need our own hero.” Stephanie Coffey, LSW
“Jamie’s knowledge in the realm of child abuse cannot be compared to any other social worker in the division, and like Ann [Brander], she is highly sought after for guidance and support. She provides immense amounts of her time mentoring others and is always willing to help educate staff.” Regan Kitzmiller, MSW, LISW
“Treating families over the last year during the pandemic has added an additional layer of complexity and challenges. Jamie adapted to changes in policy while continuing to meet our families’ needs with respect, understanding and professionalism. Given Jamie’s job responsibilities, she is one of very few social workers who was unable to work from home. She continued to treat families while putting her own health at risk.” Stacey Litman, LISW-S

Training and Experience Count

Brauley has been a champion for elevating the role of social workers at Cincinnati Children’s since she started. She had solid mentors like Brandner, Susan Fabe and Craig McManiman, who challenged her in her practice.

“Social workers are a highly skilled group of professionals who manage difficult situations wherever they are—in the ED, Hematology/Oncology, Psychiatry, the PICU,” she says. “We support the families and the medical teams in challenging, emotionally charged circumstances. It may look like we’re simply having a conversation, but we are always monitoring for abuse, domestic violence, family safety, kids’ safety and milieu safety—because it changes from moment to moment. We help families cope when they’re getting horrible news about their child and help them manage life-changing events, like a death, a chronic illness or a transplant. We’re part of the decision-making. We’re perceptive, insightful, we’re working the room at all times and constantly assessing what’s needed. Clinical teams who can count a social worker as a member have a real gift.”

Brauley was touched to receive the Ann Brandner Award, saying she misses her friend’s guidance and supervision.

“I’m not much like Ann,” she said. “She was a lot nicer and kinder than I am. She always pushed us to look at how we did something to see if we could have done it differently or better. She encouraged us to grow from our experiences. She never said a cross word about anybody, and she always had our back.”

But Brauley is very much like Brandner in how she gives 110 percent to her work.

“This job requires you to use your critical thinking skills,” she says. “You never know what’s coming through the door. When it’s over, if I’m lucky, I feel like I’ve helped. In many cases, all you can do is hold someone up, get them a glass of water and be with them. The families are appreciative of that. There’s nothing miraculous. Just reminding them to take another breath and get through the next 30 seconds is all you can do. And sometimes, that’s enough.”

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