Meet Case Management Manager Helen Schreiber: Dispelling the Notion of “Nurse Police”

Friday, June 29th, 2012
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

Helen Schreiber RN, BS, CCM, Executive Vice President of S&H Medical Management Services, Inc.

HIN: Tell us a little about yourself and your credentials.

Helen Schreiber: I attended nursing school after getting married and having two kids. I took all of my science classes at the junior college level while I was working part-time at a deli. I knew I was going to attend a diploma program because I couldn’t afford to go to a four-year university. Unfortunately, at that time, hospital programs would only accept you if you were single. I had faith and sure enough, after being told in 1979 and 1980 that I could not be married and attend, in 1981 I was told that I could attend if I lived in the dorm, and then Ravenswood Hospital School of Nursing finally accepted me in 1982 and allowed me to commute. There were 88 students in my class and more than half of them were married with kids. I graduated from there in 1985. I then received my bachelor of science in health arts (BSHA) from St. Francis in 1991. I am currently a certified case manager (CCM). Prior to that I was a Mobile Intensive Care Nurse (MICN), a Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) and a Trauma Nurse Specialist (TNS).

What was your first job out of college and how did you get into case management?

I worked nights on an ortho unit (22 patients on my team) and then moved on to my dream job in the ER. I loved working nights there. When my kids got older I knew I needed to work days and I found an ad for a case manager.

Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road?

I was truly in my element in the ER. I loved the fact that you could never predict how your shift would end. I love the chaos…and case management fills the same needs for me. Plan but be prepared for any eventuality.

In brief, describe your organization.

S&H Medical Management Services, Inc. is an independent, regional, women’s owned medical and vocational case management firm. We are completely virtual! I am most proud of the fact that we have 12 S&H babies. By that I mean, kids that were not in child care because of our at home positions with flex hours.

What are two or three important concepts or rules that you follow in case management?

  • First and foremost, be honest.
  • The second most important thing is realizing that the availability of healthcare is a gift. It is there for the patient to accept. You can wrap it up and make it as attractive as you can but you cannot make a person open the gift. That is very difficult for some people to accept.

    What is the single most successful thing that your organization is doing now?

    We have the best vocational department in Illinois. At a time when jobs are being lost, our vocational staff continues to produce a product that rocks. We have doubled the size of our vocational department during the past two years and it is due to great outcomes and special people.

    Do you see a trend or path that you have to lock onto for 2012?

    The economy continues to impact this industry. I believe creative marketing is key at this time.

    What is the most satisfying thing about being a case manager?

    I truly feel humbled to have people allow us into their lives and share the details with us at such a stressful time. That is the best thing about being a nurse.

    What is the greatest challenge of case management, and how are you working to overcome this challenge?

    Involving the injured worker into the process and making certain that the case manager is honest with him is what is most beneficial to the process. Many times the case manager is perceived as the ‘nurse police’. Those words were spoken to me by an injured worker…..

    What is the single most effective workflow, process, tool or form case managers are using today?

    At S&H I believe our proprietary software for case management documentation has made our staff more effective. S&H has also adapted the CMSA adherence tools and we utilize these tools to assist with adherence assessments.

    Where did you grow up?

    I was born in Austria. My family immigrated to the United States when I was 18 months old. I grew up in Chicago and became a U.S. citizen in the early 60’s. I attended Good Counsel high achool.

    What college did you attend? Is there a moment from that time that stands out?

    I am a child of the 70’s when not everyone went to college – at least not right away. I will never forget how overwhelmed I was when I first went to register at Wright Junior College in Chicago for my very first college course. The hardest thing to do is to go back to school. I remember telling my boss that I would be 33 by the time I finished school. He said you will be 33 in five years anyway.

    Are you married? Do you have children?

    I have been married to Roland Schreiber for 35 years. It is a second marriage for both of us. We have two kids: Erik is 38 and a cop in Chicago. Monika is a teacher, married to Pat and they are the parents of my two terrific grandchildren, Elizabeth and Olivia, who all live in Texas. We spend winters there in order to spend more time with the girls. While my daughter is certified as a teacher she now works for S&H and has since college. This has allowed her to work from home.

    What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?

    Sewing when I have the time. My current project is new drapes. And I am absolutely crazy about dogs. We currently have three, Gretchen the golden retriever, Schatzi, the rescue (a German Shepherd mix) and Tinker, another rescue (a Shitzu).

    Is there a book you recently read or movie you saw that you would recommend?

    The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey is a great book. It helps people learn to live debt-free and have more control of their lives.

    Click here to learn how you can be featured in one of our Case Manager Profiles.

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