Learn more about Geisinger 65 Forward through a Q&A session with two “quarterbacks of care.”
Sharon Alu, RN, is the care manager for Geisinger 65 Forward in Scranton. Christa Winter is the community health assistant who works out of the Kingston location. How do they help make patients’ lives easier? We let them explain in their own words.
Q: Care coordinators have been called “quarterbacks of care.” What do you do exactly?
Ms. Alu: If a patient has complex medical needs, like COPD or heart problems, or is facing challenges like food insecurity or lack of transportation, care coordinators find ways to help.
Ms. Winter: Often, that means coordinating with outside agencies like food banks, The United Way, Area Agencies on Aging and home health agencies — just to name a few.
Q: How do you determine what type of support is needed?
Ms. Alu: When a person joins Geisinger 65 Forward, they’re given a head-to-toe medical assessment. We also look at the way they live to see if there are any social determinants keeping them from getting the care they need. Lack of transportation is often an issue.
Q: And you can help with transportation?
Ms. Alu: Yes. Like Christa said, we coordinate with outside agencies. At some point, we may find a way to do it ourselves though.
Q: How else do you determine a patient’s needs?
Ms. Winter: I visit homes and make safety assessments. Does our patient have enough food? Adequate shelter and clothing? Do they have the medical equipment they need? These are just some of the problems we help solve.
Q: What about coordinating medical care?
Ms. Alu: If someone needs to see a specialist, I can help with scheduling and speak to their doctors beforehand to explain what’s going on. Sometimes, when I advocate on a patient’s behalf, a specialist will find room in their schedule even when no appointments would otherwise have been available.
Ms. Winter: And if someone needs care in the home, we help coordinate that, too. We make sure they have the medical equipment they need and train them to use it if necessary.
Q: What about insurance — do you help with that?
Ms. Alu: Yes. And since our patients are covered by Geisinger Gold, it makes it easier for us to navigate the process with them.
Ms. Winter: Our patients are also covered by Medicare, and some by Medicaid or Tricare, so we work closely with the government agencies, too. And if anyone needs help filling out an application, we’re here to help.
Q: Are there any other instances where you work with 65 Forward members?
Ms. Alu: Anytime anyone is admitted to the hospital, I work with them for at least 4 weeks after they’re discharged. We want to make sure we do everything we can to keep them from having to be readmitted. Our goal is to always make better health as easy as possible.
Q: These all sound like great services. No wonder you’re called “quarterbacks of care.”
Ms. Winter: Yes, and it’s more than medical care we’re quarterbacking. There are so many factors to consider when it comes to health — physical, mental and social. 65 Forward looks at it all.
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