By Robin Jenkins, Director of Care Management – Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County
Did you know you or your family may ask for a Care Management consultation when receiving care at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County? In fact, case managers strive to offer a consultation to all hospitalized patients when requested. Additionally, any person obtaining hospital services who may need Care Management assistance. The ability to focus on patient needs, off support, and develop compassionate interpersonal relationships is an attribute you can count on from the Care Management team.
The American Case Management Association defines Case Management as:
“A process that facilitates communication and care coordination along a continuum through effective transitional care management. Recognizing the patient’s right to self-determination, the significance of the social determinants of health and the complexities of care, the goals of Case Management include the achievement of optimal health, access to services, and appropriate utilization of resources.”
This is quite a description. But what does it really signify and how does it benefit you as a patient at MHSC? While our Care Management Department is a service, it all begins with a multi-disciplinary team. Your team consists of your physician, pharmacist, primary nurse, physical therapist, other ancillary providers, and of course, your assigned case manager.
Potential healthcare, psychosocial, financial, and discharge planning needs are identified by the team. It’s the case manager who meets with you, your family, and or advocate to formulate a plan to meet your individual goals post-hospitalization for a safe and successful return home or possibly, if required, an alternate level of care such as a rehabilitation facility. They are your link to community resources which could include a referral for home health, durable medical equipment and so much more. The case managers’ baseline resource knowledge of our community partners is vast. They are your personal advocate for accountable care.
Advocacy is a role case managers sincerely hold in high regard. This quality aligns with the hospital’s Mission: Compassionate care for every life we touch. In the words of Mariah Hamblin, an MHSC medical-surgical registered nurse, “case managers orchestrate patients’ lives while they are hospitalized, and well beyond their hospitalization.”
Never has this responsibility been challenged as it was with the COVID-19 pandemic. During this demanding and difficult time, the case managers were tasked with providing clear communication between the patients and their families. They were prudent in their undertaking, providing needed support, imparting empathy, and arranging reliable post-hospital planning under extremely stressful circumstances. It was a particularly significant responsibility during a period that allowed no patient family visitation.
Facing new challenges in order to help every single patient is one of the rewarding parts of the job. When asked what she likes about her job, Jolynn Porter, an MHSC registered nurse case manager, said “There are lots of moving parts. We wear lots of hats, but it is the human and personal connections that make the position rewarding.”
Care Management requires a great deal of flexibility in an ever-changing healthcare environment, skillful application of critical thinking, and the ability to function with autonomy. It demands experience. As a case manager, there is a sense of appreciation to serve our patients at Sweetwater Memorial and throughout the community, recognizing the patient is always at the forefront of attentive, thoughtful, professional healthcare.
The Care Management team, which includes three registered nurses, delivers discharge planning services for MHSC patients. They monitor the utilization of services through careful evaluation of appropriate patient level of care. At present, the team’s care transition position is vacant. Care transition is a unique role offering patients close follow-up via a registered nurse by way of phone contact, promoting wellness through education on medications, disease processes, and avoiding readmission to the hospital. This service contributes to a successful transition from the hospital to the next level of care setting. The care transition team member collaborates closely with the patient’s primary care providers, often acting as a liaison between the provider, home services, and the patient.
As the Director of Care Management and a 36-year employee of MHSC, I cannot compare a more rewarding career than my employment as a case manager for more than 20 years. The role has evolved over time and will continue to do so, as healthcare is never stagnant. It is my belief Care Management at MHSC will continue to provide first-class services long after I’m gone.
Robin Jenkins holds a Bachelor of Nursing Degree from the University of Wyoming and has earned Accredited Case Manager Certification. For more on this and all Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County and its Specialty Clinics have to offer, go to sweetwatermemorial.com.
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