May 10, 2017 § Leave a comment
For Safiatu Sam, a nurse at Commonwealth Care Alliance, the most challenging part of giving care to her patients is not necessarily a health issue – it’s how poverty restricts their access to care. This, among other socioeconomic factors facing patients in western Massachusetts, can make it difficult for patients to follow a strict health regimen. The lack of access to healthy meals and dependable transportation, combined with the inability to get outdoor exercise in unsafe neighborhoods, often leads to worsening health and behavioral issues.
Programs like Commonwealth Care Alliance allow opportunities for the patients to overcome these obstacles with the help of their caregivers.
“If someone has difficulty with accessing quality food,” Safie says, “CCA can help by providing rides to the grocery store.” The organization also offers transportation to medical appointments and an adult day program where the patients can socialize with other people facing similar obstacles.
Safie has developed a strategy, rooted in flexibility, which allows for optimal care to be given to the patients who face these challenges.
“I don’t go into the home dictating what I want to do,” she says. “I ask what their priorities are and what they want to do. If a patient wants to clean out a closet, but you need to talk to them about diabetes, you won’t be able to do so until you discuss cleaning the closet.”
Patient stories like this have been common throughout Safie’s time at CCA in Holyoke. “Poverty is a big factor in how patients are able to care for themselves and where that care falls in the larger spectrum of their basic needs,” she says. “This is where CCA comes in. We work to remove these barriers – like access to food, housing and transportation – and meet their health needs.”
When Safie came to the United States from Sierra Leone in 1990, she got a job as a certified nursing assistant that worked well with her first priority of raising her children. Since then, Safie has spent more than two decades in the field and the last five years at CCA. Her tenure at CCA has allowed her the benefit of creating long-term relationships with patients that ultimately lead to better, more effective care. “You know the person and their family inside and out,” Safie says. “I am a liaison between the patient and their primary care provider. I also try to foster their independence and encourage them to take part in their own care.”
Eventually, she hopes to retire and return to Sierra Leone and use her skills to help the people there.
Safie notes that advancing technology is imperative toward taking care of patients, both in the United States and abroad. New technology has made it easier for providers to share more information and provide better continuity of care. Additionally, the nursing profession is expanding rapidly as new opportunities become available throughout the field. With the realization that nurses’ roles in healthcare are critical to effective care, more specialties are needed.
“Nursing is evolving every day,” Safie says. “What I was doing five years ago is completely different now. To improve and be a leader you have to be willing to change and grow.”
When giving advice to people who are thinking of going into nursing, Safie says, “Nursing is one of the most rewarding careers. This isn’t just what I do, it’s who I am.”
May 9, 2017 § 2 Comments
Family has always shaped Maggie Hillaire’s passion for nursing. Growing up in Haiti, she knew she wanted to follow her mother into the profession.
“I wanted to wear a uniform like her,” she jokes now, after more than 24 years in healthcare. Maggie entered the field as a home attendant after moving to New York in the 1980s. She learned English and put herself through school to become a nursing assistant, and eventually a licensed nurse practitioner.
For the past several years, Maggie has treated members of CCA. CCA members are among the most complex and vulnerable patients in Massachusetts, and their healthcare challenges often create barriers to treatment. That’s where Maggie comes in.
Working out of CCA’s Lawrence clinic and treating patients throughout Merrimack Valley at their homes, Maggie has developed a specialty in reaching members who have pushed other nurses and doctors away. She has a unique ability to convince patients to open the door and trust her. She develops a rapport with them, and offers a willing ear.
“Most of our members are living in poverty,” Maggie says. “They have poor housing. They don’t have access to proper nutrition. We can really help these people. So I spend time with them. I sit down and I listen. I smile and I give them choices so we can work on their problems together.”
Maggie’s approach stems from a tragic personal experience: Her oldest son passed away at the age of 22. The morning before he died, he was found wandering his college campus without clothes. No one thought to inform his family. Maggie didn’t know anything was wrong until she was called to come and identify her son’s body.
“Every time I think about my son, I wish there was someone who had seen him and said something,” she says. “I look at every scenario now as, ‘this could be my son; this could be my father. I do the best I can for my patients because I wasn’t able to help my son.”
Her personal approach and ability to relate has made her a critical part of the healthcare community in her hometown of Chelmsford and throughout the Merrimack Valley. And more than two decades after she first put on the uniform she so admired as a child, Maggie maintains her passion for the job.
“When I get home, I lay down and I know I did something good – to someone, somehow.”
May 8, 2017 § Leave a comment
Nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system, as they work in tandem with doctors, clinicians, patients and families to ensure the best possible care for any and all who need medical treatment. This week is National Nurses Week, which is a time to honor and celebrate the great work of these extraordinary individuals who are on the front-lines of the healthcare system.
From spending one-on-one time with members and providing a shoulder to lean on, to education and help navigating the often complex healthcare system, you’d be hard-pressed to find any nurse at Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA) who doesn’t go above and beyond for the people they work with on a daily basis. At CCA, we’re focused exclusively on serving Medicare and Medicaid’s most complex beneficiaries, with the mission to provide the best possible care, tailored individually to the members we serve throughout Massachusetts – elders and adults across the age spectrum with special healthcare needs.
For many of our members, their healthcare challenges often create barriers to treatment. Some mistrust the healthcare system, others deal socioeconomic factors such as access to education, food and housing, and nearly all deal with a general inability to navigate and manage their own care. This is where our nurses come in.
Working with the most vulnerable individuals in Massachusetts, our nurses have learned to identify when a person has fallen through gaps in the system and think outside the box to develop individualized care plans that work best for that specific individual. By taking time to meet members where they’re at – medically, physically, emotionally and socially – and listening to what the member’s priorities are, rather than just dictating a plan of care, our nurses are developing relationships built on trust, respect and dignity that our members often don’t see elsewhere.
Throughout the week, we will highlight the great work done by some of our nurses in different regions around the Commonwealth. So stay tuned for more!
Day in and day out, we celebrate and appreciate our nurses here at CCA, but to all of the hardworking nurses, we wish you a happy Nurses Week!
May 4, 2017 § Leave a comment
Lori Tishler, MD, CCA’s Vice President of Medical Affairs, was a panelist at the 14th Annual World Health Care Congress, held April 30-May 3, 2017, in Washington, DC. She and the other panelists, national healthcare executives and stakeholders, discussed ways to improve care for the population of patients who are dually eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare benefits. Reporting on the Congress, The American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC) notes Dr. Tishler’s comment that “coordination disconnects persist beyond just Medicaid and Medicare for this population.” The AJMC also reports that CCA’s program “uses a high-touch approach that looks at each member’s whole needs, including social determinants of health, and forms partnerships with community-based programs that can help the Alliance’s community health workers fit healthcare into the lives of the patients.” On the subject of telemedicine, Dr. Tishler was quoted as saying that “technologies shouldn’t drive the process, but processes should support technology.”
Read the entire story, “Coordinating Care for Dual-Eligible Medicaid-Medicare Beneficiaries.”
The American Journal of Managed Care is the leading peer-reviewed journal dedicated to issues in managed care. AJMC.com distributes healthcare news to leading stakeholders across a variety of platforms.
April 9, 2017 § Leave a comment
Laura Black, a nurse practitioner and regional clinical director for Commonwealth Care Alliance, wrote a column in Sunday’s MetroWest Daily News about fully engaging members in their care and ensuring their voices are heard.
“Care delivery is most effective and successful when medical professionals and caregivers respect a patient’s dignity of risk, allowing them to make their own medical choices, as long as they understand the potential outcomes,” she wrote. “Sometimes the best course providers can follow is to remove the paternalistic viewpoint, and remember that the person receiving treatment is the expert of their body and environment.”
Laura’s article is the first in a new series for CCA in MetroWest Daily News called ‘Health Matters.’ You can read the full piece here.
Commonwealth Care Alliance Recognized by Senator Elizabeth Warren on the Floor of the United States Senate
March 20, 2017 § Leave a comment
Senator Warren mentioned the case of a CCA One Care member that had been shared with her by our partner agency, the Boston Center for Independent Living. Senator Warren noted the incredible care that CCA has provided for this member, and concludes by relating the member’s belief that “the only reason he’s alive today is because of all of the services and care he gets through One Care.”
March 3, 2017 § Leave a comment
Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA) was selected in 2016 to host a digital health pilot, supported by a $25,000 grant from the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS), to address challenges faced by low-income individuals with complex needs. CCA has worked with CHCS over the past few months to identify a health technology company to work with on the pilot, and yesterday announced that CCA will be paired with Orbita, a home healthcare platform.
Many CCA members use personal care attendants (PCAs) as part of their care team. While these services play a critical role in meeting members’ needs, the process for hiring, scheduling, tracking, and preparing time sheets for PCAs is complex and labor-intensive. To address this challenge, CCA will work with Orbita to develop and test a mobile tool that streamlines these activities, and give members a more efficient process to manage their PCA program.
Through the initiative, CCA members will schedule, track, and prepare time sheets for their PCA services using the voice-activated Amazon Echo system to access Orbita’s mobile platform. Member information will be stored and managed in the Orbita system.
The short-term pilot will include a minimum of 100 CCA members. CCA staff will train participants on how to use the technology, and will perform weekly check-ins to identify any user issues. Patient feedback will be gathered through patient surveys and focus groups, and will inform the pilot to assure success.
You can read more about the pilot here.