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December 6, 2004

Hemophilia Center Social Worker
Wins National Award


Dawn von Mayrhauser, a hemophilia social worker at the Health Center. Her work involves psychosocial support, advocacy, and outreach.

Photo by Peter Morenus

Dawn von Mayrhauser, a hemophilia social worker at the Health Center, was at the Hemophilia Society’s annual meeting in Dallas recently when she was called from the floor to be presented with the society’s Social Worker of the Year award.

“It was a complete surprise,” she says. “I had no idea I had even been nominated.”

Von Mayrhauser was nominated by two people: a colleague from the New England Hemophilia Center in Worcester, Mass., and Dr. Robert Bona, professor of medicine and director of the Health Center’s Hemophilia Treatment Center.

“Ms. von Mayrhauser is a valued and integral member of our HTC team,” Bona wrote in his nominating letter. “Her caring and non-judgmental approach to our patients has been consistent over the years, and our patients have come to admire her and seek out her counsel and support. Much of the success of our HTC team can be attributed to her outreach to patients.”

Hemophilia is a hereditary disorder in which the blood fails to clot normally because of a deficiency or abnormality of one of the clotting factors. A recessive trait associated with the X-chromosome, hemophilia is manifested almost exclusively in males.

Women have bleeding disorders too: Von Willebrand’s disease is a hereditary bleeding disorder caused by a deficiency of Von Willebrand
factor, which helps platelets stick to the blood vessel wall and to each other, a process necessary for normal blood clotting.

The Health Center’s Hemophilia Treatment Center treats a variety of bleeding disorders. A multidisciplinary team – including physicians and nurses, a social worker, a physical therapist, a dentist, and an orthopedist – provides comprehensive care to patients. Other specialists are available to the team as needed.

“People who receive care at a comprehensive treatment center have better outcomes,” says von Mayrhauser.

Her work with patients involves providing psychosocial support to adults and children with bleeding disorders, and advocating for patients, helping them obtain benefits for which they’re eligible.

Von Mayrhauser also visits schools to educate staff about the special needs of children with bleeding disorders. She has worked to strengthen collaboration between the Health Center and various regional groups and the national society, and has been involved in preparing the curricula for several regional and national meetings.

In addition to counseling, advocacy, and organizational work, von Mayrhauser also has published many articles in HemAware, the journal of the National Hemophilia Foundation.

“Dawn provides superb clinical social work services to our hemophilia patients,” says Patricia Verde, manager of the Health Center’s Department of Social Work. “She is creative in her approach to bringing patients and families together in a variety of supportive group settings, and is also a valuable resource in the community. We’re very proud that she has received this significant, well deserved recognition.”

Von Mayrhauser received her undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College, and a master’s in social work from UConn. She has worked with the Hemophilia Treatment Center for 10 years. She previously was a counselor for a home-based hospice program in the Farmington Valley.