People with rare diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, cystic fibrosis, and certain types of cancers, often require complex care and treatment regimens.
Now, they’re managing these conditions during a global pandemic.
AccordantCare, the CVS Health care management program for those with rare conditions, provides members with dedicated nurses who check in regularly by phone and nurse teams who are available around the clock. During COVID-19, they're providing more than standard care management support for members’ conditions — they are helping members adjust to new routines and challenges.
This National Nurses month, we’re proud to feature a few of our approximately 400 Accordant nurses here.
Phillip Ellison, RN, BSN
"We work with one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to infections because their immune systems are compromised," says Philip Ellison, an oncology case manager. Many doctors have switched patients from facility-based IV cancer treatments to oral medications so they can remain at home as much as possible. While this reduces the risk of infection, it means a new medication regimen and new side effects at a time when doctors can be less accessible. With an Accordant nurse team to call, members get their care management questions answered any time of day or night.
Phillip and other case managers also reach out periodically to the members they support. "This population is often already isolated, but now even more so. Having case managers who telephonically reach out to them is more important than ever." One such member, living in a rural area with no internet access, first heard about the novel Coronavirus from Phillip's call. He was able to educate her on the virus's impact and importance of wearing a face covering for her lab visits.
Wendy Golob, RN, BSN
Wendy Golob, a case manager, emphasizes Accordant’s whole-person approach to member support, assessing members' support systems, transportation access, and ability to take part in daily activities such as cooking and dressing in addition to medical needs. During COVID-19, this means community resources, grocery delivery services, and scheduling appointments with their doctors over the phone when needed.
One member Wendy supports was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with COVID-19 and diabetes. He was given several discharge instructions as well as a strict diet regimen. Due to visitor restrictions, his caregiver was unable to have her questions answered by hospital staff. Wendy quickly scheduled a conference call to go over the instructions in detail, alleviating the caregiver’s concerns and empowering her to provide care with these new diagnoses. "She was so thankful for having that discussion," Wendy says.
Makayla Rhoades, RN
Makayla Rhoades, a health management nurse, says many members call for help sorting through information they've heard from various sources, turning to the Accordant team for best practices and advice on symptoms that warrant medical attention. Makayla was an advocate for one of her members taking hydroxychloroquine for Lupus when the drug was being sought as a possible COVID-19 treatment. With all of her local pharmacies out of stock, Makayla helped a member locate an in-network mail order pharmacy to get her medication delivered on time.
Another member, feeling distressed after a hospital visit, sought Makayla's emotional support and assistance scheduling a telehealth visit with his primary care physician. "You do what you can to assist with their needs and have a positive impact on their health and life overall. It's those relationships that bring you to work every day," she says.
Melissa Gomez, RN, BSN, CCM
In her role as a health management nurse, Melissa Gomez translates health information for her Spanish-speaking members. Many of her members use interpreters and translators, but often don't like relaying personal medical concerns to a third party. Even going online, Melissa explains, is difficult when only a fraction of reputable health sites post content in languages other than English.
One challenge Melissa highlighted is transportation access. During COVID-19, this means educating members, who are often immunocompromised, on CDC guidance to safely utilize public transportation and avoid infection. “When I get on the phone with my members, I envision what's going on, we talk about the issues, and we problem-solve together, says Melissa, "we have little moments of success with every member."
During this challenging, uncertain, and unprecedented time, we thank all of our Accordant nurses for their resilience and dedication to making sure members receive the best possible care.