Minister finds her niche in hospital social work Mt. Airy resident had tried teaching CARROLL COUNTY HEALTH

November 17, 1992|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

When L. Francinne Boyle was growing up near a Louisiana town the size of two crawfish laid end to end, she spent so much time in church activities that people said, "Francinne's going to be a minister's wife someday."

Her reply: "Why be his wife? I'll be the minister."

She did that, but found it wasn't exactly what she wanted. Thirteen years, three children and several postgraduate programs later, the reverend finished a master's degree in social work and began looking for a job.

Carroll County General Hospital had an opening and she sought it eagerly. Part of the attraction was the convenience of the drive from her home in Mount Airy; part, Westminster's Main Street, which she had fallen in love with when she came here for acupuncture treatments. She joined the hospital staff in August.

"It was like a treat for me to drive down Route 27 to Westminster," she said. "My heart leaps when I see all the trees and flowers and fields."

As one of four social workers on the staff, Mrs. Boyle helps patients and their families assess what they will need for recuperation after leaving the hospital. The answer may be visits from a home health care nurse or aide or, in cases where the patient needs more extensive care, a nursing home.

Nursing homes are difficult because few openings exist in Carroll County and because qualifying for Medicaid forces families to exhaust most of their assets, Mrs. Boyle said. "I see elderly people taking their spouses home when they can barely care for themselves, but the only alternative is to give up everything they've had and worked for," she said.

The job has a down side, the impossibility of building long-term relationships with clients. But the up side, Mrs. Boyle said, is seeing the relief that patients and their families express when arrangements for care have been completed.

Mrs. Boyle's path to Carroll County General started at Louisiana State University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in speech and communication in 1977. She met her husband, Robert Boyle, a native of Annapolis, at college.

They became engaged, but put off the wedding while she attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina and he went to University of Maryland at College Park for an engineering degree. After she was ordained, she was able to join him in College Park, where she was on the pastoral staff at University Baptist Church.

Mrs. Boyle was put in charge of Christian education. She found that she liked teaching, but she didn't like "the big push toward numbers, the all-out drive to get the enrollment up."

Looking for her niche, she studied pastoral counseling and did an internship in clinical pastoral education at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring.

There, she worked side by side with social workers.

"I realized that I was offering spiritual guidance and holding hands, but when a patient needed housing, my role ended there and the social worker took over," she said.

Mrs. Boyle left the chaplaincy program to start a family. The couple has three daughters, Brittany, 9, Kaily, 6, and Sydmarie, 5. While she was at home with the children, Mrs. Boyle decided to go back to school for a social work degree, which she completed in May at the University of Maryland at Baltimore.

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