My mother’s health has been described as a house of cards. She’s older and much to her frustration, her health is failing. She’s a three-time cancer survivor and she still lives alone. Her medical care is delivered via a senior health practice affiliated with a prestigious hospital. Reputations be damned, good medical care comes down to good people caring about what they do.
It is not too much of a stretch to say that the only reason my mother is alive and able to live on her own is because of Anna. Anna is a Case Manager with my mother’s doctor’s office. Until recently, I thought every good sized geriatric medical practice had at least one case manager on staff. Turns out, Anna is a rarity in more ways than one.
Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without Anna. My mother lives about an hour and a half from me. It’s almost all highway driving, but three hours round trip plus time to visit means my trips are infrequent. I do my best, but I’m an only child with a husband and two children, so my plate is pretty full.
My mother sees so many specialists, one needs a score card to keep track of her appointments and medicines. Thankfully, Anna keeps score. She is an experienced nurse with excellent communication skills and an inability to accept no for an answer.
The other advantage of having an Anna on the team? There is an unbiased, third party to mediate disagreements (No Mom, you cannot leave the hospital against medical advice). Anna is one part humanitarian and one part drill sergeant. My mother is a fiercely proud and independent woman which Anna respects, but Anna doesn’t take any baloney from anyone.
Anna is also a wealth of knowledge when it comes to social service agencies and Medicaid/Medicare rules and regulations. She acts as an advocate on my mother’s behalf when my mother can’t and I can’t be there to do it myself. She knows my mother well and can share successful approaches with medical professionals that make caring for her easier, thus making my mother more comfortable and the treatment more expedient and effective.
Not everyone needs the breadth of Anna’s expertise. Some have spouses or family who can manage many of the details, but when it comes down to coordinating treatment. EVERYBODY needs an Anna. She has a knack for cutting through the red tape and insuring that everyone is on the same page. She’s fluent in medical speak and can translate and interpret even the most convoluted doctor’s report. She answers questions that I might not otherwise ask lest I waste a doctor’s time. She explains in plain english what is happening, why it is happening and what outcome is expected.
I am familiar with case managers working as part of cancer treatment centers and after this experience, working with a case manager in geriatric health, I encourage everyone when evaluating medical practices, to ask if they employ a case manager. Having an Anna in your life can lessen the stress of being ill or caring for a loved one with chronic illness or failing health.
May you all find an Anna in your life when you need someone to help you negotiate the challenges of the medical system.
Thank you Anna for all you do.