To say Clair Bifro, outpatient social worker for the Hematologic Malignancies and Bone Marrow Transplant Program, has a heart for helping others is an understatement. A Cincinnati native, Bifro earned her Bachelor of Social Science in Social Work at Xavier University in 2006. While there, she did a service learning semester in India at the Mother Teresa Home for the Destitute and Dying and a year-long internship with the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati Battered Women’s Shelter. She received her Master’s of Social Service Administration (Accredited MSW) in 2007 from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where she also completed a three-semester internship with the Geauga County Board of Developmental Disabilities, doing individual and group counseling. Bifro also worked with individuals with serious mental illness through the Intensive Case Management Program (Mental Health Recovery Centers of Clinton and Warren County) and worked for five years with Hamilton County Developmental Disability Services doing service facilitation and participating in intellectual disability/mental health dual diagnosis programs before coming to the UC Cancer Institute in November 2012. "I absolutely love my team and the patients here,” she says.
What made you choose the institute and UC Health?
"The academic focus track that I was in during grad school was health social work, so I have always wanted to work in a hospital. I collaborated with the Psychiatric Emergency Services Developmental Disability Specialists from UC Medical Center quite a bit in my previous position and was always very impressed with those social workers. The diversity of the patients at the hospital also was really appealing to me.”
What are your regular job duties?
"I complete psychosocial assessments for the transplant candidates and help patients and families prepare for transplant. I coordinate with the inpatient BMT social worker and nurse case manager. I provide brief counseling as needed around adjustment to illness, grief and loss and provide referrals to assist with community and financial resources.”
What is your favorite part of the job?
"I love being a social worker in the outpatient setting because I am often meeting patients when they are first diagnosed and have the privilege of being a part of their journey as they go through treatment. Developing these types of relationships with patients is definitely my favorite part of my job.”
What is the toughest part of your job?
"I help patients through difficult financial situations that can be common when diagnosed with cancer, and I work with a lot of patients who go through a difficult time when they are no longer able to work and are awaiting a determination from social security and have no income or very reduced income. Seeing people struggle with having to spend money that they have set aside for their future or even having to rely on charity or family and friends for the first time is difficult. It hits close to home because that could be any one of us. Finding the resources that people need can be a challenge; however, we are very fortunate to have American Cancer Society, HOPE Lodge, a strong Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Chapter, Cancer Support Community and Cancer Family Care in our area.”
What do you like to do in your spare time? What is one thing people might not know about you?
"I like to keep myself very busy. I sit on the Board of Trustees of the Center for Independent Living Options. I am on the Patient Services Committee with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I love Hot Yoga. I go almost every day, and I like to peer pressure people into coming along. Also, I joined the Kickball League in Washington Park—that should be interesting. I’m in a book club that I adore, and I also like to paint and play my violin when I’m feeling a little creative. People might not know that I still love to climb trees even though I’m almost 30!”