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Amanda Hyne, LCSW Is On A Mission To Increase Visibility Around Crohn’s Disease

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Amanda opens up about her role at the IBD Center, how she works cross-functionally to support patients, and her hopes for more visibility around Crohn’s disease.  

Amanda Hyne, LCSW has been a social worker at Mount Sinai Hospital for her whole career. She started out on an inpatient unit helping with things like discharge planning and care coordination. After a short time in what she calls a “float position” working between various different units, a dedicated role opened on the GI surgery floor. 

Not only was the work interesting — during her five-year tenure, she was able to work closely with one of the nurses to run an ostomy support group for patients who had to have a colostomy or ileostomy — but there was a personal connection motivating her, too. 

“I have a family member with Crohn’s disease,” Amanda explains. “My cousin was diagnosed as a child and is doing very, very well now. So I was familiar with the diagnosis and really excited to be able to help patients navigate surgeries related to this.” 

From the GI floor, Amanda transitioned to a role at Mount Sinai’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center (IBD Center, for short) and has been there ever since. 

Below, Amanda, who will be honored at this year’s Mission Possible fundraiser hosted by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, opens up about her role at the IBD Center, how she works cross-functionally to support patients, and her hopes for more visibility around Crohn’s disease.  

On her work at the IBD Center… 

My role now is providing short-term psychotherapy to patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. We focus on building resilience and a positive psychology framework to help patients cope with the realities of this. We spend a lot of time trying to figure out ways to make coping with the healthcare system a little bit easier. 

We have a program called Compass that focuses on newly-diagnosed patients. There’s an interdisciplinary team and patients meet with all of us. Together, we help them adjust and manage their disease from a mental health, nutritional, and medication standpoint. Ultimately, my role on the team is helping patients cope with the emotional challenges that come along with a diagnosis like this. 

On how she works cross-functionally to support Crohn’s patients…

We're very collaborative and interdisciplinary. The director of our program, Dr. Laurie Keefer, who’s a very well-known GI psychologist, created this framework that we operate in called gaining resilience through transitions — GRITT Method™ for short. 

Our team works together to figure out what patients need and which services they would benefit from. We have a nutritionist and clinical pharmacist on our team, and we all meet regularly to walk through different scenarios to help people cope better. 

For example, we have a lot of patients, especially those who are newly diagnosed, who are really nervous about starting infusions or biologics. And so we will work very closely with them to manage that anxiety and help them get accustomed to their treatment plan. We'll work directly with Stacy, our pharmacist, to talk about things like…this patient is really concerned about the potential side effects and is really worried about impacts on other medications they’re taking. Do you think you could meet with them? Or the opposite could happen. She could say…hey, I met with this patient and we went over everything related to the medication, but they’re really nervous about impacts on lifestyle. Can you meet with her?  

We’re really collaborative in knowing what type of holistic support a patient might need to feel a bit more comfortable with their plan. 

On how she leverages the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation in her work…

Being at the IBD Center, we refer to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation a lot, especially for newly-diagnosed patients who are looking for connection and to meet other people navigating this. Patients also want resources, which the Crohns & Colitis Foundation has no shortage of. 

I talk to a lot of patients about symptom-related anxiety and always bring up the restroom access page. There’s a really great map with a “Got To Go” restroom card that you can download from the foundation’s website — it’s essentially a medical card that allows you to use bathrooms in stores and restaurants. It’s really great, and not everybody knows about it.  

Even before I started at Mount Sinai, my family has been very connected to the foundation because of my cousin — we run a half marathon in support of the organization every year, and I actually ran the New York City Marathon in 2016 with Team Challenge, which was so much fun. 

On her hope for more visibility around Crohn’s disease…

In a perfect world, a cure would be great. But until that happens, we need more visibility. I hear patients talk all the time about how they have such a hard time talking to family and friends about it because nobody understands or even knows what it is. With more visibility, we can normalize what’s going on. And from there, hopefully we can work towards more access because this is a really expensive disease. The medications are incredibly expensive, and it’s hard to find providers who specialize in it — it’s not uncommon to take several months, or even years in some cases, to get properly diagnosed. 

With more visibility, we can hopefully have more access to resources and improved medication assistance programs to help make navigating the healthcare system easier for patients. This is something that’s really important to me, and I’m hopeful. 

On being honored at this year’s Mission Possible event

I’m excited! I have two really young kids, so I feel like they’ll love it. I feel thrilled and honored to be a part of this event. There will be a lot of opportunities to raise money, and I think it’ll just be a great time. 

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