How a life-threatening emergency taught me the value of a Nurse Care Manager

How a life-threatening emergency taught me the value of a Nurse Care Manager

– Dr Kathy N Johnson, PhD, CMC

I had a routine colonoscopy scheduled for a Friday. I knew the drill: drink the bowel preparation the day before and stay close to the bathroom. The procedure went as expected. The physician said everything was fine, no need for concern.

I soon returned home looking forward to our traditional Friday night pizza. Slowly, I felt pain starting in my gut. I thought: “Yeah I shouldn’t have eaten all that peperoni… must be heartburn”. But the pain got worse. A lot worse. After about an hour, I told my husband we had to find a doctor because I was increasingly uncomfortable.

Off we charged to the emergency room where I was whisked into a wheelchair because the pain made it impossible to stand. At this point, I was pleading for medication to help with the pain, while helplessly writhing on a hospital gurney.

I had my cell so I quickly dialed the only people who I knew would answer: Nurse Care Managers. I knew I needed an advocate. These go-to RNs wasted no time calling the staff in the ER and urging them to address my pain. I later learned they even demanded that I be quickly admitted and even get a private room!

It was around midnight when I went into surgery for a perforated bowel. I woke the next day, disoriented, catharized, with a button to press for morphine. I was in shock, feeling weak and vulnerable.

Seemingly out of the blue, a Nurse Care Manager was at my bedside. She could sense my feelings of helplessness. She sprang into action, like an unofficial hospital concierge, checking to make sure I had everything I needed.

She translated much of the hospital protocol, so I had a clear understanding of what was likely to happen before I was released. And she explained what I could expect during the recovery process, and what challenges I may face once at home. I didn’t know it at the time but she spoke with the nurses on my unit so she could educate me on the specific doctor’s orders.

I share this personal story because I learned first-hand how the oversight provided by a Nurse Care Manager, can dramatically improve medical care. They function as advocates, translators, educators and connectors to medical providers, as well as compassionate partners to those with complex health conditions — all under one roof. The result? Care that can’t be matched when you need it most!

I am beyond excited to partner with many of the very best people on Shelterbelt Care. Together we are working toward our mission of improving the lives of individuals with chronic health and cognitive challenges. The A+ services we provide have never been more deeply necessary.

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