In keeping with its tradition of enhancing the overall health care experience for patients, River Hospital has recently created the position of Care Coordinator. A Care Coordinator is a health professional who works with patients to help manage medical services, provide information about their medical condition, and make sure that they receive treatments that they need.
In general, a Care Coordinator serves as an intermediary between high-risk patients and River Hospital’s three primary care providers. Addition of this resource is intended to increase access to care through greater focus on the patient, resulting in better services and overall quality of care. One-on-one patient education is key to helping patients understand specific aspects of their health care regimen; for example, patients with diabetes can learn how to check insulin levels and administer self-injections.
As necessary, a Care Coordinator may help patients with pre-visit planning. Confirmation of hospital visits, scheduling preventative services, reconciling medications and ordering refills are some of the activities that might be involved. These duties may extend to arranging transportation to the care provider. Another aspect of the role is called “care gap management”. Particularly for chronic illnesses, care gap management consists of following up with patients who are overdue for services or who may have ongoing questions about their condition after a hospital visit. Patients will receive help in managing follow-up visits or specialized procedures like mammograms or colonoscopies.
The position of Care Coordinator requires extensive medical experience and a broad understanding of the many aspects of health care. Kelly Smith, RN, will be the first to serve in this vital role. While the position is new, Ms. Smith has been associated with the hospital since 2007 and has served as Nurse Manager both for Skilled Nursing and for Ambulatory Care. “Our healthcare system can be increasingly complex for patients,” said Ms. Smith. “I believe that we can improve outcomes for patients by helping them to navigate through all phases of their care. I am pleased to be in a position to help.”
River Hospital’s CEO Emily Mastaler sees great promise in the Care Coordinator position. “We created this position so that our patients have someone specifically designated to support them as they navigate the various aspects of their health care,” Mastaler said. “Kelly will be a supportive resource and an advocate for our patients, helping them to both understand and access the care they need.”
By Wayne Strauss, Contributing Writer