For patients and families, a hospital stay can be a confusing time, and the uncertainty can extend even after a loved one is discharged.
Case managers are so vitally important, because they combine clinical and administrative knowledge with an understanding of available resources to ensure the hospital experience and what comes after are as stress-free as possible. From helping understand treatment protocols to managing insurance issues to ordering necessary equipment and facilitating a safe discharge, case managers can be a difference-maker for our patients and families.
Today we take a look at six hospital case managers who have distinguished themselves and fulfilled a critical role at each of our hospitals.
Yolanda Bianchi, RN
Memorial Hospital West
Within the next few weeks, Yoli Bianchi will wake up and not report for duty at Memorial Hospital West. After more than two decades with Memorial Healthcare System, the longtime ICU nurse and case manager is retiring.
I'm excited. I’ll miss my work family, but am looking forward to focusing on myself and developing new skills.
Bianchi’s legacy can be seen through the words and actions of fellow case managers, most of whom she trained.
“Yoli’s willingness to consistently and effortlessly go above and beyond for patients, families and co-workers makes her truly one-of-a-kind,” said Kim Fego, director of clinical effectiveness at Memorial Hospital West. “Her knowledge, compassion, collaboration, and ability to make any situation better is what made her a top-notch case manager.”
Carolyn Ayers, RN
Memorial Regional Hospital South
A nurse for nearly 40 years and a case manager for 10, Carolyn Ayers is a critical link to helping patients transition to a new way of life following inpatient rehabilitation at Memorial Regional Hospital South. With many of those she works with recovering from strokes, traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, it’s imperative they leave her facility with the proper equipment, aftercare and emotional support.
She considers patient advocacy to be one of her most important roles, and remembers the circumstances of a recent trauma patient who is now a quadriplegic. While his new situation will no doubt be filled with challenges, Ayers was able to help by arranging for disabled parking, setting up paratransit services, making referrals to support groups, and scheduling all the necessary doctors’ appointments.
Erika Solis, MSW
Memorial Hospital Pembroke
Case managers have historically communicated with patients and families, but those conversations have taken on additional meaning during COVID-19.
“Families are in need of constant contact, since the coronavirus has kept them from visiting loved ones at our hospital,” says Erica Solis, a case manager and social worker. “Their only connection may be the phone, and we’re the go-between for the clinical staff, families and the patient. It’s critical we’re all on the same page.”
“It’s rewarding to safely transition someone from a COVID unit to wherever their next destination may be. These are different times, but there’s a lot of satisfaction in knowing you’re making a difference in someone’s life,” she added.
Lujuana Morales, RN, BSW, CRM
Memorial Hospital Miramar
Lujuana Morales is a nurse and social worker who takes great pride in advocating for her patients. Most recently, she’s been the link between those hospitalized with COVID-19 and their families at a time where visitation is prohibited. “I speak with them every day and let them know they’re not alone, that we’re here to support them, and to offer reassurance, encouragement and resources,” said Morales.
“Lujuana connects in a way that few people can,” said Patricia Wilds, director of clinical effectiveness at Memorial Hospital Miramar. “Her care and compassion come through in every conversation. She’s been a lifeline for many families during the pandemic.”
Maria Judith Miranda, RN, BSN, CRM
Memorial Regional Hospital
With nearly four decades of healthcare experience, first as a medical surgical unit nurse and now in case management, there aren’t many situations Maria Judith Miranda hasn’t encountered. That, she believes, is a big advantage for the patients and families she works with. “My background enables me to be their biggest advocate. I have the knowledge that nurses have, an understanding of what insurance will cover, and am able to provide options after discharge from the hospital.”
“Maria is known for her positive attitude and has the ability to remain calm as she helps patients/families navigate and understand the next transitions of care,” said Cindy Kohn, director of clinical effectiveness at Memorial Regional Hospital.
Martha Tinoco-Romero RN, BSN, CCM
Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital
Managing cases in a pediatric setting can be difficult, especially when abuse is suspected, but Martha Tinoco-Romero is up to the challenge. She is a key part of the team that works closely with social work and community liaisons and has been a member of the Memorial family since 2003.
“Martha is an advocate for the most vulnerable children in our community,” said Rebecca Kordsmeier, director of clinical effectiveness at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.
It’s a role Tinoco-Romero accepts willingly, similar to how she approaches her other duties, which include working with COVID-19 patients and mentoring BSN students or fellow employees in the art of utilization review.