n some ways, the death of an unborn child or a stillbirth can be a hidden loss. Nonetheless, it can be an emotionally devastating event. Winthrop social workers identified a clear need for perinatal bereavement and other parental support services. Funded by a grant from the Tyler Ford Bialek Memorial Foundation, they recently established a bereavement program to help parents cope with their grief. In fact, the driving force behind the Tyler Ford Bialek Foundation is a family that experienced the loss of one of their newborn twins.
Through Winthrop's Perinatal Bereavement Program, social workers (left to right) Monica Ann Wakely, ACSW, Anna Orologio, ACSW, and Margaret Fusco, CSW, provide individual counseling and lead support groups to help parents cope with loss.
The program includes professionally led support groups as well as individual counseling for parents who have experienced the loss of a fetus, a stillborn, the death of a young child due to illness, or who have recently given birth to a child with special needs.
"We offer support groups as well as one-on-one counseling to reach out to parents and provide them with the tools to work through the grieving process," said Anna Orologio, ACSW, one of the program's coordinators.
"It can be a source of great comfort for parents to connect with others who have endured a similar situation and freely express their feelings of loss," added another program coordinator, Margaret Fusco, CSW.
At Winthrop, these support groups meet one evening each week for a period of six weeks. New groups begin on an as-needed basis. The service is available to any community member, whether or not a Winthrop patient. A $10 donation is requested, although not mandatory.
"Our feedback from parents who have used the service has been overwhelmingly favorable," said group coordinator Monica Wakely, ACSW.
"As caregivers, we feel we should address the emotional and psychological as well as physical needs of our patients," said Warren Rosenfeld, MD, Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics. "This is one of the ways to do that."
The program is sponsored by the Department
of Pediatrics, part of the Institute for Family Care. For additional information or a referral to a support group or individual counseling, call (516) 663-2288.