In 1980, I began working as a vocational counselor with the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) program. CETA was a federal program to train workers and provide them with jobs in the public service. When I graduated from Columbia University with a Masters of Education in 1981, a co-worker let me know about a case manager position, for which I applied and was hired. Based on that experience and the ability to speak fluent Spanish I was hired by Crawford Rehabilitation Services in 1983 and became a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC).
I really enjoy the challenges that are presented to me with each new case referral. Specifically, I enjoy building a good rapport with the injured worker or client (in Care Management) as well as the treating physicians so that we can coordinate our efforts to ensure positive outcomes. Travel to and from appointments takes me to areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut that are very interesting to visit.
Upon receipt of a new case I review the file material and the handling instructions. After being employed in this line of work for so many years there are many individuals and companies with whom I have dealt with in the past and can anticipate what is expected in handling a particular file. Contact is then initiated with all concerned parties and relevant appointments scheduled.
My “never forget” list includes:
- Check the traffic and weather
- Print out Map Quest directions
- Ensure my GPS and telephone are fully charged
- Call to confirm the appointments before leaving
- Make sure my socks match
- Fill the gas tank up
- Eat well (as the appointment may take longer than planned)
- Before leaving an appointment, make sure you have everything, as you may not get a second chance!
One of the most memorable cases I’ve handled was a care management file for a wealthy 94-year-old male who lived in a luxury building in Manhattan. The Trust Officer for the particular case was at her wits’ end as the gentleman would not allow anyone into his home and was becoming reclusive and disheveled.
After several attempts to get him to meet with me, he finally relented when I showed up with a box of cookies. I soon discovered that he had a sweet tooth and would do anything for a treat, including taking a shower; letting me take him for a haircut and shave; and eventually allowing a home health aide and a nurse provide him with assistance. I wish that I could present a before and after picture for he truly made a miraculous transformation.
One of my biggest surprises being employed as a case manager is the continually changing ways in which our company works to improve our product, as well as the fact that after all these years every day there is still something new to learn.
My best advice for other case managers or people considering the field is to remember that, as difficult as a case may be, you should avoid arguments and work out problems through diplomacy.