After 40 years of hospital social work, team member begins new chapter

She is one the first social workers on the transplant team and now Nancy Flamme is retiring.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes,

As she walks the halls of the fourth floor transplant unit at IU Health University Hospital Nancy Flamme says it still hasn’t hit her. She won’t be coming to work at the hospital every day. She won’t be working with the staff members and patients she’s come to love.

With four decades of hospital social work under her belt, Flamme is retiring. She started at IU Health in 2001 and began working in the transplant unit in 2003.

“Things started to explode in transplant as far as the number of transplants,” said Flamme. “We had two social workers – one for liver and one for kidney. Because of the increase we needed another social worker,” said Flamme, who was approached by Linda Munsch, now manager of transplant services. “I jumped at the opportunity and haven’t looked back since,” said Flamme.

“We were fortunate to have someone of Nancy’s caliber join our team at a time where we were experiencing significant growth in the liver transplant program. She worked tirelessly to ensure that our patients were connected with the needed resources and provided much needed emotional support to this complex patient population. Her work and dedication will be truly missed,” said Munsch.

Nurse Practitioner Tony Davey has worked with Flamme for the past 15 years and before that he worked with her in his role as liaison with IU Health Home Care.

“I love Nancy. Back then she rounded with the doctors and she used to update me on the patients. She is an incredibly hard worker,” said Davey. “She knows a lot and if something needs to be done, she just does it. With patients she’s always been supportive and direct and ready to troubleshoot to get things done in the most effective way.”

Flamme said she began thinking about a career in social work when she was a student at North Central High School and began volunteering with adults with disabilities. Later as a student at Hanover College she spent a semester working with the welfare system in urban Philadelphia. She went on to get her master’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis.

The most rewarding part of Flamme’s role at IU Health has been following the patients through their transplants.

“I start working with them from the time they begin their evaluations and continue through transplant. I can get a call from someone who had a transplant ten years ago. They came in so sick and now I get to see them after they have recovered. Some of them become active again – going back to work and are able to lead healthy lives.”

Over the years, Flamme has met countless patients and also their family members. Many she still hears from through holiday cards. She will miss that.

She says she will also miss her co-workers.

“I haven’t been here quite two years and Nancy has been awesome,” said transplant social worker Joshua Sumner. “She’s a wealth of knowledge and an authority on transplant and how social work interacts with the patients.”

So what’s next for Flamme?

She’s planning a trip to Hawaii and looks forward to spending more time with her sister and visiting her nephews who live in Colorado, California and Michigan. She also looks forward to continuing her volunteer work with her church Northminister Presbyterian and with other local organization that help those in need.