Caring for a patient

Life-saving intervention

A care manager’s timely follow-up convinced her patient to get life-saving treatment.

While working as a care manager within a Northeast Georiga Physician’s Group (NGPG) primary care clinic, Ellen Woody, RN, met Mr. Gordon Harder, a patient with Type 2 Diabetes who struggled to control his blood sugar. Despite the doctor’s recommendation to take insulin, Mr. Harder refused. Ellen urged him to follow the doctor’s recommendation, but he was adamant that he could manage his blood sugar without insulin. Understanding that some patients need more time than others to make decisions concerning their care, Ellen gave Mr. Harder her contact information and encouraged him to call her if he had any questions or concerns.

Ellen’s job as a care manager is an integral part of the Northeast Georgia Health System’s focus on improving the quality of care within our communities. Care managers monitor and engage with the system’s higher-risk patients to ensure they keep their appointments, take medication as advised, and follow the doctor’s recommendations.

Meeting patients where they are

During Mr. Harder’s next scheduled appointment, his blood sugar levels were worse. Ellen and the doctor visited with him, and they convinced him that he must take steps to better manage his diabetes or else risk serious complications. Although he continued to refuse insulin, he understood the severity of the situation and was willing to make some changes.

Over the next several months, Ellen and the doctor, along with Mr. Harder and his wife, worked as a team to manage Mr. Harder’s diabetes. Through this team approach — along with patience and education — Mr. Harder eventually agreed to try insulin, and the clinic helped him secure financial assistance to pay for it.

Improving outcomes

As Mr. Harder’s health improved, he grew more confident in his relationship with Ellen and with the doctor’s guidance. They taught Mr. Harder how he could better manage his diabetes while still eating the foods he enjoyed, and he trusted that Ellen and the doctor were making recommendations that were in his best interest.

Mr. Harder became very involved with his own care, and he was proud of his progress. After six months of incorporating better diet and exercise into his routine, his blood sugar levels improved significantly.

Although Ellen eventually moved into a new role, her relationship with Mr. Harder continued. Because they talk from time to time, Mr. Harder’s wife was able to share other medical concerns that her husband was facing. Of course, Ellen stepped in and coordinated with Mr. Harder’s care team to help.

“Being a patient advocate is a very important part of being a care manager,” said Ellen. “It can be challenging, and it takes time to earn a patient’s trust – but it’s incredibly rewarding when we break barriers and help patients enjoy healthier, happier lives.”

Because of the focus on improving health outcomes at Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) and our partners, we are making strides to continuously improve the health of more members of our communities.