Health care heroes: Transforming care delivery overnight
As much of our world began shutting down in March, health care starting looking very different. Providers and health systems had no choice but to find additional ways to care for patients. The Pediatric Developmental Center at Advocate Children’s Hospital was no different.
Caring for children and adolescents from birth to age 18, the Center provides highly specialized programs for children, as well as training, education and support groups for families. Intake coordinators Alicia Heinzmann and Madeleine Benitez and Billing Specialist Laura Velazquez transformed the Center overnight into a telehealth delivery model, allowing families to continue receiving services and support from the team.
“Their work ethic, outstanding interpersonal skills and call to service manifest the foundation of our team,” says Dr. Sarah Bauer, site medical director. “They maintained this standard of service through one of the hardest times of our lives, and this means children and families are able to receive clinical care when they need it most. Advocate Aurora Health is blessed to have them on the team, as they exemplify why we are proud members of this team.”
So how did they make it happen?
“First, we took several deep breaths because change is hard – especially during a pandemic,” Benitez says.
They then began verifying telehealth benefits for families to make sure insurance coverage was not another concern for families. “We communicated telehealth billing guidelines to providers and informed families about all possible coverage for their treatment,” Velazquez says.
Alicia explains how as a team, they tried to reach as many current patients and families as they could to assess needs. “We wanted them to know they were supported during this time, even if not in person. We worked with parents on telehealth education and set up telehealth visits.”
“This pandemic has placed everyone in totally unexpected situations,” Benitez says. “As parents are sheltering in place with their children with developmental challenges, it was our priority to inform and update them on appointment status and our new way of providing excellent services. Zoom is now our everyday existence. We wanted families to know we are all on this new service delivery journey together.”
The trio all agree the most remarkable thing they’ve seen is the strength and spirit of their staff and families through it all.
“I’ve been so amazed how parents and families have dealt with so many different kinds of stressors and continue to move forward each day,” Heinzmann says. “I’ve been equally amazed with our doctors, clinicians and staff who are constantly looking for ways to support families in this ever-changing environment.”
Amid a pandemic, there is much to be proud of.
“I’m part of a wonderful center that delivers special, compassionate, excellent care to children and families,” says Velazquez.
“It doesn’t hurt that my coworkers are the best in the business,” Benitez says. “Physicians, management, rehabilitation therapists, behavioral therapists, support staff…we all work toward one common goal – the patients.”
Heinzmann loves working with a dynamic and dedicated group of co-workers who thinks about what is best for patient care. “It makes me motivated to try and do things better each day.”
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.