One of the scariest, most life-altering things that can happen to any of us is a health crisis. We’re going along, working, living our everyday lives, then BAM! We fall sick, get a serious diagnosis or have a traumatic accident. It’s frightening, and can leave you feeling helpless and powerless.
This is something I know about from my personal experience as a cancer survivor. As a strong young man in 1983, I tried to handle far too many elements of my care alone, walking the “I’m fine!” line until it nearly broke me emotionally. I can’t say it strongly enough, DON’T DO THAT!
When you have to face a serious illness, make sure you engage the support of family, friends, and your medical team to walk that path with you. I know not everyone has those family/friend resources in their time of need, and that makes me even more proud of the fact that here at Blue Cross we offer that support to our members through our Care Management programs and services. It’s one of, if not the most, concrete ways we live out our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians.
Stronger Than With Health Coaches
People are often surprised to hear that Blue Cross has its own in-house clinical team. That’s right, we have more than 200 clinical professionals, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, social workers and wellness consultants, who are here for our members, both in their moments of illness and moments of wellness.
Through health coaching and hands-on assistance, they empower members, who may be struggling with long-term conditions, serious illnesses or traumatic injuries. They show them they are Stronger Than any disease or diagnosis and support them on the path to optimal health – whatever that means for them.
They do this in a variety of ways, whether health coaching by telephone, sharing health information and educational materials, connecting members with local resources and community organizations, coordinating care with doctors’ offices to make things easier or, in some cases, joining members at appointments.
Take Ben’s story, for example.
Stronger Than My Lawn
Ben*is a doctor, and he’s also a patient. He has a lot of long-term health conditions – diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure. And a little over a year ago, Ben was having trouble staying on top of all that and keeping his numbers under control.
Ben started skipping doctor’s appointments, and he wasn’t taking his medication as directed. Even worse, because Ben is a doctor, he felt guilty about all this and wasn’t sharing with his own doctor that his levels were going up and he was feeling worse. Eventually, his kidneys got so bad that he needed dialysis. He was so weak, he couldn’t properly clean his house or take care of his yard. He was only able to work a few hours a day. He felt terrible, and he was worried this is how it would always be.
Enter Ben’s Blue Cross nurse.
She started trying to reach Ben by phone, but he was avoiding her, too. Luckily, she was persistent – she showed up at Ben’s dialysis clinic one day, meeting him at an appointment. They started talking. Ben opened up to her about his frustrations with letting himself get this sick, his inability to do basic things he once handled just fine, and the inconvenience of trying to schedule all this care he needed. Ben’s nurse listened. And then, she helped.
Ben’s nurse told him physical therapy could be a good first step toward building back his strength. Ben was hesitant, so his nurse made him a deal: If he agreed to start physical therapy, she’d go to his first few appointments with him, to cheer him on. She did, and he went.
Ben also told her that one of his challenges with dialysis was that it was hard to have appointments (which last for hours at a time) while working. His nurse coordinated with the dialysis clinic to schedule Ben’s sessions around his work hours, which made it easier for Ben to go, so he stuck with them. A few months in, Ben was getting stronger. He was able to do more of the things he used to.
One year ago, Ben was lying in a clinic getting dialysis to be able to do the bare minimum. Today, he’s working full time, sticking to his doctor’s treatment plan and – something he is very proud of – he can mow his lawn again. I know mowing our lawn in Louisiana in the summer doesn’t sound like a privilege to most of us, but to Ben, it’s a miracle.
Let’s Take This Journey Together
Ben is just one of the thousands of members our care team has helped. I encourage you to check out our Care Management site, bcbsla.com/Stronger, to read the powerful stories shared there from members whose lives have been made stronger through the compassion and encouragement of our nurses and health coaches.
And remember, if you or anyone covered on your plan is dealing with a serious health need, you don’t need to go through it alone. Call 1-800-317-2299 to speak with a member of our care team about the Care Management programs and services we offer. There is no extra cost to work with one of our health coaches.
Straight Talk is, I’m humbled by and proud of the amazing work my colleagues do, and I’m honored to share their stories here.
*Real name withheld for privacy.