I had kept in touch with many of my friends in Philadelphia and was talking to a good friend one day who had just moved into the area of case management. She shared that the company she was working for was looking for nurses in the Fort Lauderdale area. I called, got an interview. Again, not really knowing what case management was as the supervisor who interviewed me to explain the role. She said that case management was just good nursing, ensuring the patient got what he or she needed in the least restrictive setting for the most cost effective price. I did well on the interview and was offered a job! I signed up to do 20 hours a week in addition to my position as an Emergency Department Nurse.
I fell in love with case management and felt it closed the circle of nursing. As a nurse, I saw people who were so sick yet recovered enough to go home or to a nursing home or rehabilitation center. I attended many meetings with patients and families regarding the plan of care as a nurse, but as a case manger got to see the what challenges a patient had when they went home or to another setting depending on their condition. This experience provided me with a different perspective. – As a case manager, I learned how people who were sick, disabled, on dying, could adapt to their situation with an advocate by their side. I saw how having an advocate helped to ensure they transitioned through the system safely, avoided duplication and progressed through the process in a positive way. This meant adapting to a lifelong injury or chronic disease, or accepting and planning for a dignified death. My role was to make sure the patient and family had the resources they needed to meet their personal goals.
Even through I was a nurse, I was not capable of making serious decisions so my husband became my advocate and was at my side every step of the way. Hearing the doctor say, “you have a brain tumor” closes your ears to the plan of care and next steps. My husband was able to listen, and to ask questions that I could not formulate. As we moved forward in the journey, we talked about these situations and I learned a lot about what I missed and how much he had to do to keep me safe and save my life. I will be forever grateful to him.