By: Jenny Steinkopf, RN – Care Coordinator
Care Coordination is one of the newest programs at Tri-County Health Care. Our goal is to provide timely, patient-centered care, improve the quality of health care and encourage patient participation in this team approach to individualized care. As one of three coordinators, I work with the group to continue to find the best way to raise awareness and make this program successful for patients and staff.
A Care Coordinator partners with patients to better manage their health care needs. They are your “go to” person to help with various things such as understanding your condition(s), answering your questions, navigating the complex and sometimes confusing health care system, choosing a specialist, accessing services or resources and encouraging you to work on and reach your goals.
Looking back, I had the perfect example of a care coordinator before I even knew what care coordination was. My mom, along with probably yours, has perfected this model of patient-centered, individualized, holistic care. Moms have that knack for knowing everything about anything. Who else can keep track of everyone’s schedules and know something is wrong before you even say a word? She’s just that good and knows you that well.
I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes the summer before fourth grade. That summer, my mom could tell you my medication doses, last lab results, what dropped my blood sugars, signs I would show if my blood sugar levels were low and so much more. I remember going back to school that fall and she was the one to educate my teachers, bus driver and friends’ parents on this disease that turned our world upside down. She was my advocate and was willing to do whatever it took to ensure I was as healthy as possible. My mom knew the value of being proactive with this chronic disease. She knew by focusing on preventive care, we were preventing emergency room visits, hospitalizations and major complications down the road. My mom helped me, but it was still my body and I was always responsible for my choices. My health care team and my mom could set me up for success, give me the right tools and encourage me, but I was ultimately the one to determine my success in managing my diabetes.
Jeffrey Brenner, a doctor in New Jersey who cares for his patients with a similar model, says it brilliantly, “People are people, and they get into situations they don’t necessarily plan on. My philosophy about primary care is that the only person who has changed anyone’s life is their mother. The reason is that she cares about them, and she says the same simple thing over and over and over.”
I don’t claim to have all the answers, or a magic wand to fix all your problems (I wish I did!), but I do know that being proactive and shifting our attitude to prevention can pay off in the long run. Let’s not wait to see the doctor until we’re sick, but do it to prevent the sickness. I want to know my patients and what motivates them to achieve their goals, whether it’s related to medications, diet, activity or simply showing up to an appointment.
Little things make big things happen! We often set lofty goals in regards to our health, although we all know that there is reality and sometimes, a really big gap between the two! I want to help you build a bridge and take small, simple steps to get closer and closer to your goal. As a care coordinator, I’m not your mother, but I do care and will tell you those simple things over and over and over in hopes that I can help you be the best you possible. You can thank my mom.