It’s Case Management Week! In 1988 I transitioned from traditional nursing into an emerging role that was called ‘case management’. It was a bold step as I did not really know what it was, but I was told “I would be good at it”. What I learned over the next 30 plus years is case management closed the circle of nursing for me. As a critical care nurse, I would see people come into the emergency department with terrible, life-changing injuries or illnesses. We would do what we needed to do and send them to the floor or the ICU. Most of the time, I never thought of them again. When I worked in the Respiratory ICU, I cared for people for months who we did not think would live. Many did not, but many did. There came a time when they no longer needed our expertise and they were moved to another floor, to a rehab center, or even to home. I did wonder what happened to these people…who would care for them as we did? But I did not know how to find out because once they left us we did not know what happened to them.
As a case manager, I was part of the team that helped people transition through the healthcare system. I was part of the team that assessed them to learn what they needed to recuperate or learn to rebuild their lives. I was part of the team that put together a plan, implemented that plan, and followed up to see if it was working. I was one member of the team who looked at the person from all aspects of their lives and worked to break down barriers that were in their way. I was a member of a team that worked to ensure they died with dignity or went on with their lives as best they could. It was a life-changing experience for me and one that taught me so many lessons about the resiliency of the human spirit.
Today, I teach, mentor, and educate professionals who are new to the practice or trying to decide their next steps. Being a case manager was the highlight of my career and I am so glad my friend Ellen saw something in me that told her “I would be good at it”.
To all my case management colleagues, Happy Case Management Week! Thank you for all you do. It is changing lives and helping people and their families cope, live, and grow beyond their expectations. We are needed more than ever.
Have a good week!