Jeanna Burrill, RN, loves her job as a nurse navigator for the Neurosciences Institute at Intermountain Medical Center where she works with patients with conditions like dementia or Parkinson’s disease, helping them and their families navigate their healthcare journey. When her workload at IMC decreased because of COVID-19, Jeanna was redeployed to SelectHealth where she helped serve a different population: SelectHealth members identified as at the highest risk for the virus.
During her eight-week redeployment that recently ended, Jeanna was asked to call high risk patients and offer them resources, like education, emotional support, and information about community programs. Jeanna reached out to more than 700 SelectHealth members with various health conditions, including a member with kidney issues whose husband had been laid off and who was concerned about her ability to afford a life-saving prescription. Jeanna helped the member break down barriers to safely receive care and resources.
My redeployment had similarities to my role as a nurse navigator as far as being a patient advocate. During the calls I’d talk to people about their health and personal concerns, and often I’d connect them with resources, sometimes looping in the care manager with SelectHealth. The idea was to reduce the cost of care, but also make sure these highest risk patients knew how to protect themselves and their families.
In the case of the patient whose husband had been laid off, my first impression was there was so much this member didn’t know. She was worried she’d have to go in-person to the doctor to get her refill during a time when she wasn’t supposed to leave the house. I helped her understand that many doctors are being very flexible, offering phone and video visits, and some pharmacies are offering delivery options.
Next we spoke about her concerns with her husband’s job loss and their finances. He’d been denied unemployment benefits, but when she told me the story it sounded like he’d qualify, and I encouraged her to appeal it. We then talked about food box programs and other community resources that could help keep money in their pockets, including the 211 Utah app.
"At SelectHealth our care managers needed to rapidly expand their outreach efforts to members who were at increased risk of complications if they contracted COVID-19,” says Erin Evans, a care management operational manager with SelectHealth. “They did this by escalating common burgeoning themes that members in our community were facing — things like education to prevent spread of the virus, adequate food and medication if quarantined — through the huddle process so that Intermountain and SelectHealth could quickly connect our community with needed information and resources. Redeployed nurses, like Jeanna, helped us reach out to members early in the pandemic and played an important role in keeping our community safe.”
I’m happy I was able to give her the help she needed. I ended each call the same way. I’d say, “Thanks for taking my call. I’m glad to have helped.” I always reminded people to take care and stay safe.
The most common thing I experienced with every phone call was gratitude. The words people most used were ‘impressed’ and ‘amazed’ and ‘in awe.’ They were grateful someone from SelectHealth was reaching out — and with no other agenda then to help. Even when people would be cautious or distrustful at first, once they learned I wanted to help they were very receptive.
One thing I really appreciated during the redeployment was the collaboration with my temporary manager, Erin Evan. Erin always listened carefully to my feedback.
When I first started, I was focused on questions related to education and assessing that members knew how to protect themselves. After a few weeks it was clear people were saturated with that topic and didn’t want to talk. So after speaking with Erin I transitioned to questions about emotional and physical needs. It was everything from asking about isolation and loneliness to basic necessities like food and medication.
Many of the questions were very personal, regarding emotional health or having adequate food, but it was clear people wanted someone to talk to. It actually helped me with my isolation and struggles at the same time. I liked knowing I was still making a difference in people’s lives. It’s really what we do here at Intermountain with our focus on preventive care.