When a person is ill and hospitalized, one thing they seek in addition to medical treatment is comfort and someone who is willing to listen and take the time to resolve concerns on behalf of the patient.
For the past seven years, one person they can turn to provide answers to their questions is Bothwell Regional Health Center social worker Kiwi Popyk-Wyatt.
Popyk-Wyatt was recognized Thursday as the 2016 recipient of the Crossroads Caring More Award for her service and commitment to others.
“All of this has been very overwhelming to me,” Popyk-Wyatt said. “I always want to do good work and help those in need, but to be recognized for that is pretty amazing.
“It has always been a team effort since I have been at the hospital though,” Popyk-Wyatt added. “If I didn’t have the support of my wonderful family and the tremendous group of individuals who I work with every day at the hospital including Grace Linn and the others in the department, it wouldn’t be possible for me to do what I do.”
The work Popyk-Wyatt and the team of social workers at the hospital do is extensive, as they are ultimately responsible for helping provide patients with day-to-day services they will need to succeed once the patient has been discharged from the hospital.
Popyk-Wyatt and her co-workers in the department are on call 24/7, 365 days a year.
“Sometimes I think I spend more time with my hospital family than I do with my spouse and our son,” Popyk-Wyatt said. “But Doolie (my spouse) and Riley (Blankenship) our son are very supportive and if I didn’t have them I couldn’t do what I do.”
Popyk-Wyatt said the family is very community-minded and chooses to spend their free time volunteering at First Christian Church and spending family time together in Branson and the Chicago area.
“We are here from the birth of babies often times to the end of their lives, providing information for anyone who needs help but they truly don’t know what to do or where to turn,” Popyk-Wyatt said. “That can mean anything from helping them to schedule appointments or finding a piece of medical equipment they need to extend a warm handshake or a smile when they need one.
“Many of the people we help are at their most vulnerable state and maybe at one of the lowest steps in their lives,” she added. “It’s our job to help pull them up by their boot-straps and fight for others and their families to help them return to the safest environment possible while at the same time allowing them to have as many choices as possible.”
Popyk-Wyatt said on a slow day, she may see four to five patients, but when the hospital is at or near capacity, that number can multiply to as many as 25.
For her, one of the best parts of the job is the challenge as well as the community support she finds on a daily basis.
“I truly love what I do, I love the challenge of it all,” Popyk-Wyatt said. “There is something different and unique about each person and what their needs are and I like to figure out new ways that weren’t there before to meet those needs.
“The community has always been very generous and is willing to help out in whatever way they can,” she added. “We pull together in a time of need and do what we can; it really is a true partnership.”
Popyk-Wyatt said the opportunity to teach and train others had been a joy as well as having the opportunity to work with the staff of doctors and nurses at the hospital.
“When people look at the hospital it really has the simplicity of the face of a watch,” Popyk-Wyatt said. “But then when you have to replace a battery in the watch and you start to look at all of the moving parts, that’s what it takes to make the hospital work, the people are all of the moving parts.
“All of the people who work here and devote their time to helping others, it really is quite a beautiful thing,” she added.
Prior to joining the staff at Bothwell, Popyk-Wyatt was instrumental in creating the position of the school social worker in the Warsaw School District.
“Kiwi is just an incredible person,” said John Carleton, former Warsaw superintendent. “She would have to go into some pretty ugly situations in her work but I always used to say she went into the lion’s den unafraid.
“She was instrumental in making the Christmas for Kids Program in Warsaw happen every year, helping to make Christmas better for 100s of kids,” he added. “She simply is an amazing advocate for people of all levels and needs.”
In appreciation for the hospital, Popyk-Wyatt donated the $500 she received for her selection as the recipient of the Crossroads Caring More Award and an additional $500 she received for winning the Community Favorite Award to the BRHC Foundation.
“Everyone has a budget, and I am aware of the good work the Foundation does,” Popyk-Wyatt said. “They do so much to help others with what they are given, so this is just a small way for me to give back because I appreciate what they do for others so much.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484