No Two Days Are the Same for Shriners Children's Boston Care Management Team
If you’ve ever wondered what a care manager’s job is like, the team at Shriners Children’s Boston has a motto that helps explain it: “Everything is figureoutable.” Known for their ability to multitask, problem solve and think on their feet, Shriners Children’s Boston care managers are an invaluable resource for patients and families.
The care management team at Shriners Children’s Boston includes two registered nurses and three licensed social workers who hold case management certifications in addition to their professional licenses. Four per-diem social workers cover weekend hours and a medical interpreter assists with Spanish translation. While no two days are ever the same, care managers attend morning rounds on the inpatient floor, participate in telehealth visits and in-person clinic appointments, facilitate care team meetings, welcome newly admitted families, prepare existing patients for discharge, and respond to a constant stream of emails and phone calls.
“We are here to provide emotional and psychosocial support, while helping families understand our hospital and their child’s care here,” said Liza Gamelli, LICSW, CCM, a clinical social worker and care manager at Shriners Children’s Boston. “Helping families prepare for what it will look like when they go home is an equally important part of our role.”
When patients are admitted for acute burn injuries, a care manager works with the entire family to provide information about their child’s treatment plan and help everyone cope during a stressful time. “Many people don’t realize how much work is involved when a patient comes to Shriners Children’s,” said Jodi Minchella, BSN, RN, CCM, regional manager for care management at Shriners Children’s Boston and New England. “Care managers are always there to solve problems, pick up the pieces and help families.”
Care managers are an integral part of every surgical patient’s care team at Shriners Children’s Boston, communicating with families far in advance of their arrival. They compile medical records, resolve insurance issues, and answer questions and concerns. This helps to build strong relationships with families and figure out how to best meet their needs.
“We focus on the well-being of the patient as well as their family members, and what factors affect their situation as a whole,” said Sandy Barrett, RN, BSN, CCM, a nurse care manager who works closely with patients receiving burn treatment and cleft lip and palate care. “I explain to patients that I‘m there to make sure their parents have what they need, too.”
For international patients, care managers arrange travel, housing, medical clearance and visas. “We look at the cultural norms of the countries where our patients are from, figure out what their barriers are to care, and determine what resources they need,” said Sandy. “We also help families navigate the complexities of health care and learn how to advocate for their child. No matter where we come from, we’re all the same – every parent will do whatever they can to get care for their child.”
In addition to their day-to-day work, care managers volunteer for different councils and committees throughout the hospital that support patients and families. “Our team is truly involved in every aspect of care,” said Jodi. “They step up to the plate all of the time, and are so motivated and willing to help.”
Care managers are central to the wrap-around care model at Shriners Children’s that allows patients to be treated until the age of 21. “Since we follow kids through their whole trajectory of care, our caseload consists of every patient we’ve ever met,” said Liza. “The relationships we build with families help us to see the whole picture and anticipate what their needs might be when their child returns for follow-up care. We try to make each trip back to the hospital a better experience.”
Many families find the relationship with their care manager to be a particular comfort during their child’s inpatient stay and beyond. Kayla and her son, Hunter, travel to Boston from their home in Maine for his appointments for cleft lip and palate care. “Sandy always goes above and beyond to ensure that we are organized and prepared for our three-state trip,” she said.
Patients form close bonds with their care manager and often stay in contact as they enter adulthood. They may need information about their past treatment or just want to share an achievement or milestone. “I’ve seen infants that came for craniofacial care become adults and have their own children,” said Sandy. “I even had a former patient bring their own child here for cleft lip and palate care. That was truly a full-circle moment.”
Seeing patients and families thrive after their experience at Shriners Children’s Boston is the ultimate reward for the care management team. “Everyone has the same positive attitude, and we all advocate and do the best we can for each patient,” said Jodi. “It’s the culture of Shriners – we’re all here for our mission.”
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