Meet Case Manager Patty Hedrick: Helping Clients Achieve Their Highest Level of Independence

Friday, January 17th, 2014
This post was written by Cheryl Miller


Patty Hedrick, RN, BSN, BA, CRRN, CCM, CLCP, CEO of Med-Legal Healthcare Consultants, Inc. and North Star Elder Care, a geriatric care management company

This month we provide an inside look at a healthcare case manager, the choices she made on the road to success and the challenges ahead.

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

(Patty Hedrick) I love to travel. My goal is to set foot on all the continents during my lifetime. I am an avid reader and a seminar junkie. My motto is to never stop learning. I enjoy walking, Zumba, yoga, sailing and spending time with family and friends. Being a nurse was something I had always wanted to be, but I wasn’t sure what area I wanted to specialize in. During nursing school my father had a severe stroke. After working closely with the rehabilitation team, I knew I wanted to specialize in rehabilitation nursing. Upon graduating from Seattle University with my BSN, I completed my minor and obtained my BA in rehabilitation. Since then, I have continued taking ongoing classes and programs. I am a certified geriatric care manager (GCM) and have obtained multiple other certifications including rehabilitation nursing (CRRN), case management (CCM), disability management (CPDM), life care planning (CLCP), and coaching. I am a testifying expert and have travelled internally as a subject matter expert. I enjoy speaking, writing and am a contributing author to several books.

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

After graduating from nursing school, I was a staff nurse on an acute rehabilitation unit. I enjoyed the multi-disciplinary approach of the rehabilitation team: all the different disciplines working together to help our patients regain their independence. We had a discharge planner on our unit and she would help the patient transition from the hospital to home or other setting. The discharge planner was responsible for communicating with the family, insurance company, providers, etc. One of my patients was a workers’ compensation case and he had an external nurse case manager. The field of case management was just starting to expand. I was offered a position and training to become a nurse case manager. With my nursing and rehabilitation background it was a great fit. My son was young, and as a field case manager, I was able to work some from home. I started my own case management company in 1999, and have been growing strong ever since.

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

Yes, when I realized I had come full circle. I started working with the elderly as a nurse’s aide while in nursing school, and loved hearing their stories and life lessons. All my training in rehabilitation, case management, disability management, life care planning and elder care have brought me back to where my heart is, which is working with the elderly. We launched North Star Elder Care, a resource for seniors and their families.

In brief, describe your organization.

We are a healthcare consulting firm providing case management, life care planning, legal nurse consulting, elder care and nurse coaching services. We offer a wide variety of services helping the elderly, disabled, and sick, navigate through the healthcare system.

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

The ultimate goal of a case manager is to help your client achieve their highest level of independent functioning. Therefore, it’s crucial to obtain a comprehensive medical history and thorough initial evaluation. Start with a good road map. Secondly, have good systems in place, including checks and balances, to maintain consistency and easy access to information. In an emergency, it is important to have all the signed releases, contact information, etc. easily accessible. Lastly, make time to network with others in your field. Share resources, attend networking and educational events and support each other.

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

Expanding our elder care services division by providing geriatric care management services.

Do you see a trend or path that you have to lock onto for 2014?

Elder care is going to continue to explode. The first baby boomers turned 65, and many have elderly parents, too. It is difficult to navigate through the healthcare system and many people don’t have the time.

Another area that is expanding is nurses becoming nurse coaches and entrepreneurs. Nurses are starting to realize that there are many opportunities, both within and outside the hospital setting. I attended a conference with the National Nurses in Business and it was exhilarating to see all the different ways nurses are using their skills. We created Nurse Coach Alliance, a Web site for nurses providing coaching, resources and educational opportunities.

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

When you are able to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. For many people, the healthcare system is a puzzle and is very difficult to understand what is happening to them. Often times, they are missing some of the pieces. By finding the pieces, we are able to coordinate their services and providers, make modifications as necessary, and help them to reach their maximum level of independence.

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

I think it is getting needed services approved that have been denied by the insurance carrier. For example, utilization review will often go strictly by guidelines, when as a case manager we will see there is often more to the picture. Not everyone has a case manager to go to bat for them.

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

Keeping an extensive resource list with providers they know and trust and understanding how to navigate through the healthcare system.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Seattle, Wash. and grew up in North Seattle. I moved to California in 1988, when I got married.

What college did you attend? I attended Seattle University.

Is there a moment from that time that stands out?

Yes, I remember my first day in pathophysiology. The professor started class by informing us that a minimum of over one-third of the class would fail. I had heard horror stories about this class and I was terrified. If you failed pathophysiology, you were out of the nursing program for an entire year. I could not fail. That night I had nightmares that I flunked the class. I knew I had to face my fear. The next day I went to the instructor’s office and shared my concerns. She was extremely helpful and recommended to me the best way to study for her class. I knew then if I did exactly what she told me, I would be fine. I ended up doing well in the class.

Are you married?

Yes, for 25 years to Gregg.

Do you have children?

Two children, Ben and Rachael.

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

I love to travel, and love seeing new places. I have gone to all the continents on my bucket list. My husband traveled extensively for his work, so we would meet him wherever he landed.

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

I recently saw Saving Mr. Banks which I enjoyed, and I am currently reading The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Any additional comments?

Case management has opened many doors for me and has been the stepping stone for me taking my nursing degree in many different directions. It has given me the opportunity to use my nursing skills to travel internationally, become a published author, expert witness and speaker. And in the process, I have met some extraordinary nurses.

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