Lifelong Barrington resident Barb Koenig has been the lead social worker at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington for more than 19 years.
Koenig told Barrington Suburban Life reporter Tarah Thorne what has her "hooked" on this rewarding career.
Thorne: What drew you to the Barrington area for residency and work? What do you enjoy most about this area?
Koenig: My family and I moved to Barrington when I was in grade school. I have lived here for over 40 years. My husband Stan also grew up in Barrington. We both felt it was a great place to grow up so why not raise our family here. Plus, we wanted to be close to our parents who we knew might eventually need our help.
Thorne: What are your daily responsibilities at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital? What types of patients do you see?
Koenig: My responsibilities vary depending on the needs of the patients and their families. I offer emotional support, community resources, financial assistance, long-term placement, adoption, neglect and abuse reporting, substance abuse support, respite care, behavioral health resources and placement on a daily basis.
Thorne: What is the most rewarding aspect of being the lead social worker at a hospital? Describe your team.
Koenig: The most rewarding part of my job as lead social worker is quite simple. I enjoy helping people who are in need. I have been a social worker for over 30 years and I love my work as much today as I did when I started in the field. I am truly blessed. I work with a remarkable group of social workers who are committed to their work. I also work with an incredible group of nurse care managers. Together, we make an awesome team providing comprehensive, compassionate care.
Thorne: When did you become interested in social work? What led you to this career?
Koenig: I took an introduction to social work course when I was at Illinois State University and I was hooked. I knew I had found a profession where I might be able to help people who were in need. I went on to get my Bachelor's degree in social work at the same school and then on to University of Illinois for my Master’s degree in social work. I have worked in the health care field my entire career.
Thorne: What are you most excited for with the hospital's coming renovations and expansion?
Koenig: I am excited about everything, especially the private rooms.
Thorne: How will these renovations affect your career, specifically?
Koenig: Private rooms will provide additional privacy that both the patients and staff will benefit from. The rooms will be larger, which will allow for family members to feel more comfortable spending time at the hospital. As a social worker, I spend a fair amount of time with the patients family working with them to address the needs of their loved one.
Thorne: How have you seen the hospital advance over the past 20 years?
Koenig: I have seen many advances over the 20 years that I have worked at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital – from increased beds, to renovations in obstetrics and the emergency department, to numerous accreditations, awards and accolades.
Our cardiac program, stroke and cancer programs have also received numerous commendations.
My department, care management, received the Doyle Award for Innovation and Leadership in Healthcare and more recently, Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital became Magnet recognized (for nursing excellence).
I am so proud to be a part of the Advocate Experience at Good Shepherd Hospital.
Thorne: What do you like to do outside of work? Any hobbies or special interests?
Koenig: I love spending time with my family and friends. My daughter is a sophomore at Illinois State University, counting the days until she gets home. Our son is graduating from high school in May. He is counting the days until graduation and our youngest is finishing up eighth grade, looking forward to going to high school.
My kids hear me often say that I want a "do over." The time simply goes way too fast. I also volunteer within the community and at our local church.
Thorne: Where do you volunteer? Why is this important to you?
Koenig: I volunteer at Barrington Giving Day, Community Meal, Relay for Life and the Woodstock Soup Kitchen.
I have volunteered more in the past when the kids were younger – as a Girl Scout leader, Boy Scout leader, Sunday school teacher, and through the Junior Women's League.
As the kids activities are winding down, I look forward to volunteering more. My parents instilled in my sisters and I the importance of giving back whether it is to an individual in need or to an organization that helps the greater good. I am a people-person and I can't think of anything finer and more rewarding than to be able to share your time and talents with others.
Thorne: Where are some of your favorite spots in the area?
Koenig: I enjoy dinner at Chessie's with my family, a good movie at the Catlow Theater and of course, watching my kids play sports.
Thorne: What sports do your kids play? Do you enjoy sports yourself?
Koenig: My two oldest children have hung up their volleyball, soccer, football and baseball shoes. Our youngest child is hard at work playing football, baseball, basketball, volleyball and track. My husband and I used to bike and play tennis all the time, and now that the kids are older, it's time to get back to it.
Thorne: What are your plans and goals for the near or far future?
Koenig: I plan on obtaining my care management certification, continuing to mentor social work graduate interns at work, and to simply enjoy my time spent with family and friends.