Phoenixville Hospital employee recognized for social work

Crossroads Caring Award recipient Mary Beth Coggins, right, with Crossroads Hospice Executive Director Gloria Allon

PHOENIXVILLE -Marybeth Coggins is usually not in the spotlight, but recently she was when she won an award for her social work.

Coggins, the director of social work services at Phoenixville Hospital, was presented with the Crossroads Hospice 'Caring Award' in March. The Spring City resident was nominated by her colleagues. The award was $500 she could donate to charity of her choice. She donated it to Orion Communities Inc., a Phoenixville organization that helps the less fortunate and people with special needs.

'Orion Communities Inc. a wonderful grassroots program that initially started in late 70s helping people with mental physical challenges to find work,' Coggins said. 'They take care of people no one else takes care of...single moms, the homeless.'

'The philosophy is to stop the cycle of poverty, of dysfunction of the single mother who has a child she can't afford,' she said. 'We have to stop poverty by helping people.'

She said she feels that Orion Communities Inc. Executive Director Ray Shanahan should have received the award for all of the work he does for the organization. He is always at the hospital, she said.

According to a Crossroads press release, Coggins has worked in different social work disciplines throughout her 30-year career including homecare, hospice, geriatric and psychiatric disciplines.

In the beginning of her social work career, Coggins worked for Catholic social services which helped elderly people in poor neighborhoods in Philadelphia.

Philadephia Corporation of Aging would give cases of people who needed help to her. She worked out of a senior center.

The cases she experienced were 'elderly people who were shut ins or weren't eating or weren't bathing,' she said.

'These were in very scary neighborhoods...bad projects,' Coggins said.

'It was very rewarding,' she added. 'I was in my 20s. I didn't think anyone was going to hurt me or mug me.'

Coggins said it was an exciting time to do social work and that more government funding was available to help people unlike what is available today.

'Social programs are being cut,' she said. 'People fall through the cracks. Those are the kind of people Orion takes care of.'

At Phoenixville Hospital employees in the social work services department work with staff in the ER and in the intensive care unit.

'We see people that need all kind of help...Meals on Wheels, Office of the Aging and people who are homeless.'

A support group at the hospital offers help for first-time mothers and mothers who are experiencing post partum depression.

A support group is also offered for caregivers.

Crossroads Hospice Caring More AwardExecutive DirectorGloria Allon said Crossroads has been presenting the Caring Award since 2010.

An independent panel of judges chose her as this year's recipient, Allon said.

Coggins stood out as a nominee for a variety of reasons.

Allon said, 'The judges were impressed by her mastery of hospital-based case management, providing counseling to patients and families, and giving them the tools they need to succeed once they transition from the hospital.'

'And outside of the hospital, she's involved in many local task forces related to social work such as the Phoenixville Social Concerns Committee and Phoenixville Foundation Mental Health Consortium,' Allon added.'She also works at her church as Secretary of the Servites of Mary, an organization committed to social justice, and supports residents in need through the church's St. Vincent de Paul Society.

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