If you or a loved one has ever been a guest in a hospital for any length of time, you know that leaving the hospital can be scary. There are often so many instructions, follow-up appointments, medications to be taken and arrangements to be made, it can feel like your health is dependent on your ability to remember everything. And at a time when you’re healing from a surgery or health scare, you may feel less capable of checking off all those boxes.
That’s why hospitals assign case managers to help patients come up with a plan that’s both doable for a patient’s living situation and utilizes any resources they might need to help them make the transition out of the hospital and back to their lives.
We’re lucky in Charleston to have some of the best case managers, who are as caring as they are competent.
Unlike doctors and surgeons, case workers don’t often get the recognition they deserve for the enormous impact they can have on each patient’s quality of life, so we asked hospitals in the area to tell us about some of their case managers.
The following case managers are known for their hard work, knowledge and dedication to patients, often going the extra mile to make sure they have access to the continuing care they need and have a seamless transition after they leave the hospital.
ROPER ST. FRANCIS HEALTHCARE
Jodi Grossman-Rose is the type of case manager who doesn’t think twice about putting patients’ and co-workers’ needs ahead of her own. It can be stressful and uncomfortable to speak with patients and families of patients with congestive heart failure, but Grossman-Rose’s colleagues say that her knowledge of heart failure and its impact on quality of life helps her to serve those patients and puts everyone at ease.
“She does not shy away from difficult conversations and keeps her patient’s best interest as her focus and will push for what is right, with a smile on her face and the tenacity of a bulldog,” said Robin Seylier, manager of case management at Roper St. Francis Hospital.
She helps patients understand their current health status, what they can do about it and why those treatments are important. Most importantly, though, she gets to know those patients – even though there’s a high turnover – and makes sure they have access to everything they need when they leave the hospital.
TRIDENT MEDICAL CENTER
At Trident Medical Center, the mission is “above all else, we are committed to the care and improvement of human lives.” Kim Campbell goes above and beyond to live that mission, said Karen Mozeleski, director of case management at HCA Healthcare.
Campbell is much more than a case manager. She’s a true patient advocate. She takes a personal interest to ensure her patients’ needs are being met. Recently, she even visited a patient’s home to deliver basic furnishings, provide assistance on how to navigate appointments, transportation and obtaining medications so the patient could live independently at home – something that most everyone else said couldn’t be done.
“Being a case manager is a gratifying blessing that comes with responsibility and rewards,” said Campbell. “My goal each day is to allow God to work through me to be a little better for others than I was the day before.”
SUMMERVILLE MEDICAL CENTER
Within the department where Selina Livingston works, she is known as a silent leader. She holds a master’s degree in social work and focuses most on working with women’s health and pediatric populations. She recently stepped up to fill in as an interim director of another department, which shows that she is capable of wearing many hats and doesn’t shy away from challenges. Both of these are skills that make her an exceptional case worker and a go-to leader within her department.
“Selina can always be seen with a smile on her face and is willing to teach and educate anyone who seeks to learn,” said Karen Mozeleski, director of case management at HCA Healthcare. “Selina is a caregiver in every sense of the word, both professionally and personally, as she is a caregiver at home as well as at work.”
VIBRA HOSPITAL MOUNT PLEASANT
There are many skills required to be a great case manager, from creating discharge plans that work for everyone to collaborating with patients and caregivers. There’s more that goes into it than people might think, and Wendy McKenzie, a caseworker at Vibra Hospital in Mount Pleasant, is exceptional at executing all of it, according to the director of case management there, Sarah A. M. Shea.
“Wendy goes above and beyond by appropriately managing, effectively providing and deftly implementing patients discharge plans. She brings understanding across the continuum of disciplines, and she takes time to guide patients and families as they navigate this strange world of uncertainty they have stumbled into,” Shea said. “Wendy uses her collaborative skills to reach through and beyond the hospital to find solutions, demonstrating time and time again a unique ability to connect with her patients, their families and co-workers, which is not always an easy task.”
EAST COOPER MEDICAL CENTER
Joanie Detyens doesn’t have children of her own, but she’s “raised” hundreds during her career as a case worker at East Cooper Medical Center in Mount Pleasant. This is why she’s known as “Momma Joanie” and “Aunt Joanie” among hospital staff, who regularly seek her out for her knowledge or assistance. She’s the kind of person who is always willing to lend a hand – and share the contents of her candy dish, too. She has a way about her that keeps patients and families calm as she helps them navigate their discharge plan.
“From physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses and patients, Joanie’s knowledge and care are very evident to those who engage with her,” said East Cooper Director of Case Management Tamara Pruett.
ROPER ST. FRANCIS HEALTHCARE
Rachel Patterson, a case manager at Roper St. Francis Hospital, isn’t just a compassionate advocate for her patients. She goes above and beyond to make sure the patients are well taken care of, utilizing her experience as a critical care nurse to share with a patient’s care team when something seems amiss. That’s what happened when one of her patients developed pneumonia, which is common for people with COPD. Something didn’t sit right with Patterson, though. Later, this patient was diagnosed with heart failure, and Patterson stepped in to help her find the care she needed, even though she had no family and had recently lost her job.
“She is by far the most competent, determined and passionate case manager I have ever had the honor of working alongside over the past 25 years,” said Jodi S. Rosenberg, manager of social work at Roper St. Francis Healthcare. “She works quietly and humbly and accomplishes feats above and beyond her role with sheer grit and perseverance so that all her patients and caregivers have the best chance of surviving in a world that is cruel to the less fortunate.”
ROPER ST. FRANCIS HEALTHCARE
When Cindy Signorino learned that a patient she was working with would not be able to obtain an important medication due to insurance delays and other barriers, she did what any good case manager would do – she stepped in, worked with the insurance company and figured out how to get the medication. But what happened next exceeded the scope of her job. She learned that the patient didn’t have a way to drive to get the medication. Signorino got into her personal vehicle and drove a considerable distance to make sure that patient had the medication that was so desperately needed.
“Cindy knew the consequences of missing the imperative medication and knew she had the skills, opportunity and heart to be that patient’s hero,” said Christina Nielson, who works with Signorino at Roper St. Francis Healthcare.
In taking the time to get to really know and understand the unique challenges and lifestyle of each patient she works with, she is better able to help them find practical ways and make decisions based on what is most important to them, as well as what they most need from a health perspective.
AUBRIE GATLIN BOOTH
MEDICAL UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Aubrie Gatlin Booth has been a nurse for more than 13 years and has been in a leadership position since she was in her late 20s. In her four years as a case manager, she’s continued to be a leader. She has worked on many process improvement projects in case management such as role delineation and tools and technology for documentation efficiency.
And while she shines at coming up with plans for improving efficiency and procedures, her favorite part of the job is making life a little bit easier for the patients she works with and their families.
“What I enjoy most about being a case manager is having the ability to meet and engage with so many different patients – and families – and make the transition from the hospital to their next level of care as safe and seamless as possible,” said Booth. “Being in the hospital is stressful and overwhelming enough, so if I can ease that burden for them and we can get a safe plan in place, it’s a win in my book.”
FLORENCE MARIA SIMMONS
MEDICAL UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Florence Maria Simmons is affectionately known as the “trauma queen” at MUSC because she served for years on the surgical/trauma team as the RN case manager for MUSC’s Level 1 Trauma Center. In her role, she’s been a mentor and preceptor for many case managers and residents.
During her years as a nurse, she worked in a variety of positions, from being in the burn unit, a staff nurse, charge nurse, manager and interim manager.
She’s also authored numerous articles published in nursing journals and even co-authored a chapter on burn care in a pediatric textbook, which shows her commitment to staying up-to-date in her field and continuing to learn and grow. Of course, all of that experience has enabled her to be a wealth of knowledge and support for the patients she serves as case manager.