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Our Members' Stories

In April 2015, Brenda, a CareFirst employee and member, was diagnosed with kidney cancer and underwent surgery to remove half her kidney on June 2. The surgery left her with 37 staples and a scar stretching across her entire back. During her extensive recovery, Brenda learned about CareFirst’s chronic care management program from her primary care provider and began working with nurse Patty. Through the program, care coordinators—all registered nurses—work one-on-one with members to help them better manage their chronic conditions and improve their health.

Balancing a full-time job and running a small family farm with her husband didn’t leave Brenda much time to focus on her own well-being. However, her health concerns increased post-surgery when she began to experience migraines along with rapid heart rate and low blood pressure. Patty was a big factor in helping Brenda manage these unexpected complications.

CareFirst employee and care coordination participant Brenda

"If I had a problem getting through to the doctor, Patty always interceded. She always checks to make sure I’ve followed up with all my specialists and doctors recommendations."

Patty reviewed Brenda’s medical history including her medication regimen and educated her on signs and symptoms for concern. Patty put an action plan in place so that Brenda knew when to call her doctor versus 911. She made sure Brenda followed up with her PCP, specialists and any associated testing and also engaged treating providers directly to ensure information was relayed from one doctor to the next. Brenda recalls, “If I had a problem getting through to the doctor, Patty always interceded. She always checks to make sure I’ve followed up with all my specialists and doctors recommendations.”

To try and minimize symptoms, Patty also ensured Brenda was staying hydrated, had outlets to deal with any stress and that she was taking all her medications correctly.

Because Brenda takes multiple medications—some up to three times a day—she didn’t always remember to take everything as prescribed. Patty specifically worked with Brenda to find different methods to help her stay on track of all her medications which is critical to stabilizing her health.

Now that Brenda is starting to feel better, Patty has been helping her find ways to manage daily tasks and concentrate on other health issues such as her COPD. For example, when tending to the livestock, Brenda has a long uphill walk that can be challenging for someone with COPD. Patty has taught her different breathing techniques that have made this frequent trip more manageable.

"People need to be aware of these programs. It’s quite frightening to go through these things on your own and my nurse has been invaluable in getting me through this and other health issues."

Although she continues to struggle with uncertainty around certain conditions, Brenda is grateful for Patty’s ongoing assistance and states, “I have a lot of chronic conditions and I don’t know how I could get through all of this without her.”

The program also impacts more than our members. Patty reveals another benefit, “The most rewarding part is when we can help people who want to make changes get headed in the right direction toward living a healthier life.”