National Case Management Week: Why I Love Being a Case Manager

National Case Management Week is October 11-17, 2015. Case Manager Ashley Stoddard (pictured above, left, with a caregiver) shares why she loves her job.

If I had a dime for every time someone told me “Wow, I do not want your job,” I would for sure be a millionaire by now. Patients, their family members, my own family members, co-workers… the list goes on, and I’ve heard it from all of them. And I have to agree with them sometimes! Who is crazy enough to want to be a case manager?

At Magee, there are 11 of us: one department manager, eight working in inpatient, one in the outpatient clinic, and one at Magee Riverfront. All of us are masters-level licensed social workers. And all of us are a little bit crazy.

The more formal definition of case management is really long, and has a lot of big words in it, so if you want to read it, you can do so here. But to put things plainly: we do it all. As an inpatient case manager, our primary role is to be our patients’ discharge planner. We make sure our patients have all the equipment, supplies, therapy, prescriptions, and follow-up appointments they could ever need to transition safely to home, or to whatever the next step is for them after Magee. Our secondary role is to be a support system for our patients and their family throughout their stay at Magee. We listen, hold hands, and give hugs when learning to deal with a disability becomes too much for them. And then we make everything else happen. We help patients apply for Medicaid and advocate for insurance companies to pay for essential medical equipment. We find placement in nursing facilities for patients who aren’t able to return home. Some of the more fun things we get to do are make the arrangements for patients’ pets to come visit them in the hospital, or assist families with planning a surprise birthday party for a patient (with lots of help from Magee’s wonderful Concierge Department!) We are highly organized, assertive, caring, creative, adaptable, multi-tasking machines, which is why our position can be very stressful. We’re not always good at taking time for ourselves, and sometimes we’re so busy we may forget to eat our lunch.

After knowing all the above, why would someone ever want to be a case manager? I’ll tell you why. When you get that phone call, email, or in-person visit from your patient after they’ve been discharged, and they tell you all the good that has happened to them since leaving Magee. They tell you how they’re walking without a cane now or how they’ve been able to get back to driving a car. Or maybe it’s something as small as being able to cook a hot meal on their own. That is the best part of my job. But I also take it as a good sign if I don’t hear from patients after they leave Magee. That means we did everything we could to help them live their best life, and they’re off living it. That is why I love being a case manager.

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