A feeling of tightness in his chest woke 64-year-old Bai Blyden on an early December morning. Initially, he didn’t think it was anything serious – being an active man in good shape – but his wife, Glenys, had concerns. She rushed him to the hospital and before long, they received the news they were least expecting: Bai would need to undergo quadruple bypass surgery.
The surgery was a success, but Bai’s journey to recovery was going to take time. Glenys knew they were in for a long haul, one that included numerous questions about how to ensure a smooth healing process once they got home. In addition, Bai, a diabetic, had to learn how to properly manage his condition on top of his medications for blood pressure and cholesterol – something he admittedly hadn’t been doing, which ultimately played a role in his heart attack.
That’s where Sara Hatcher came in.
“We had a coach -- a coach that helped us all the way through. That was what kind of made it more manageable,” Glenys said.
Sara, a registered nurse and UnitedHealthcare case manager, was assigned to Bai’s case. She is one of 12 case managers in her program who take a holistic approach to coordinating care and anticipating the needs of patients.
Sara was in contact with Bai and Glenys before they even left the hospital to ensure a smooth transition at home.
“After complex surgeries or extended hospital stays, families are concerned about when they will get home and if the patient will be OK once they get there,” Sara said. “I make sure everything is addressed, taken care of and people know that somebody’s here to advocate for them.”
Sara manages about 25 different patients a day, personalizing her care to each person. She helps patients develop health goals and provides the resources needed to help achieve them. If questions about billing, medication side effects or stress management arise, she connects the patient with social workers, pharmacists or behavioral health specialists who know the answers.
“As a case manager, you are home base,” Sara said. “All resources branch off of you.”
For more than five months, Sara was there to help educate Bai about what to expect throughout his recovery and how to manage his diabetes. They initially talked frequently -- sometimes two to three times a week. In Bai’s complex case, there was a higher risk of incision infection if his diabetes wasn’t managed properly. Sara explained how he could access diabetic management resources, like glucometers and supplies.
As time went by, Bai was meeting his health goals and was able to successfully manage his diabetes.
“He was completely committed to it, and those are the people that I love working with,” Sara said. “He’s his own success story.”
More than a year after his surgery, Bai has settled back into his exercise routine of karate and long walks around his neighborhood. He now puts more effort toward proper nutrition and medication schedules. As he looks back on his life-changing journey, he’s grateful for the compassionate care he received from doctors, nurses and his case manager, Sara.
“It’s personal with them, not just a job,” Bai said. “I really got a different appreciation for those professionals.”
If you’d like more information on UnitedHealth Group’s Case Management Program, click here.