1. Owen, Mindy Susan RN, CRRN, CCM

Article Content

In 2007, Suzanne K. Powell, the editor for the Professional Case Management (PCM) journal asked whether I would consider writing a column that would focus on the "essence" of case management. She was hopeful that Peter Moran, Past President CMSA, and myself would develop a column that would speak to the trials, the challenges, the passion, and the fulfilment of what it means to call ourselves "case managers." Peter and I accepted the challenge and decided to call it "The Heart Beat of Case Management." We would welcome colleagues to participate in sharing their success, as well as share what keeps us up at night! Many of you took the time and energy to create a column, and I would like to say, thank you. It was a pleasure and an honor to work with many of you on your first publication.


For several years, Peter and I alternated in writing the column or hosting you as a guest columnist until Peter needed to focus on family and his position at Mass General Hospital. His contributions to case management as a case manager, the president of CMSA, and a columnist have helped validate what we do and why we do it.... To Peter I want to say "thanks."


My good fortune continued; as Peter left the column, Teri Treiger, Past President CMSA, and coauthor of Collaborate for Professional Case Management: A Universal Competency Based Paradigm agreed to partner with me on this column and continue the vision of sharing the importance and value of case management, one story, one case manager, one challenge at a time. I could not have asked for a better partner, a better writer, or a more expert case manager to continue "The Heartbeat."


Now it is my turn to sign off. From the beginning, I have felt that it has been important to reflect on what we do well, and celebrate it, as well as what we can do better and embrace the process of always improving. Even though from the beginning of my case management career, when I knew we were doing good work, bringing a valuable service to our patients and families, and the health care team, it took a while for others to catch on. Sharing stories and insights with all of you over the years always confirmed that case management is a most valuable practice, a terrific profession, and never ever for those who are looking for an 8-5 job.


In 2011, I shared with you our experience of caring for Gabby Giffords as well as 470 very important patients at University of Arizona Medical Center in Tucson. The horrific shooting, the aftermath, and the choices and decisions that had to be made and executed to get Gabby rehabilitation were challenging for her and her family. This was happening while all being done in a very high-profile, visible arena. The complexity of that situation for all the victims and families was heartbreaking, but comforting that case management and social work, in partnership, could lead the team in securing transition plans and follow-up care. The response to that column, and how it showcased the role of case management and social work in collaboration, is the one I will always look back on with a good feeling in my "heart."


In 2013, I shared with you a personal case management experience with my aunt who at the time was 95 years young. She had fallen and fractured her hip, and her goal was to return to her home, recover and rehabilitate there, and continue to live independently. The care team was not comfortable with this option as they sent everyone with her profile to subacute rehabilitation.... She saw that as unacceptable and where her friends went and died. I knew her concerns and discussed with the team the option of developing an individualized transition of care plan that included getting her home, providing care and therapy in the home, and personally staying with her for an extended period of time. This column focused on listening to patient choice and being open to the choice, without compromising safety and positive outcomes as best we can. As I sign off this column today, I am headed to my aunt's 100th birthday party. We will all gather at her home, where she still lives independently and holds court every evening with a rum and tonic in her hand. Listening to her, honoring her spirit, and assisting her to continue living on her terms was an honor as her niece and her case manager.


It has been my pleasure to work with outstanding case managers and social workers to highlight their practice, their challenges, and most often their recommendations for advancing the transition of care process ... one patient at a time. We learn from one another and only enhance our practice when we are open to the wealth of knowledge and clinical expertise that we all bring to the practice.


Today, I would like to thank Suzanne and the Editorial Board of the PCM Journal for their support and encouragement and everyone who has taken the time to read the column and offer a critique. I have enjoyed this opportunity and encourage all to continue to share and support each other on their professional journey of being the best case manager and the best advocate we can be.


As I have said in this column before, case management is not a job but a profession and an advanced practice. The populations we serve are complex and deserving of our best selves. The Heartbeat of Case Management will continue to highlight what we do, and how we do it, one patient, one intervention, one complex "never thought this would happen" story at a time.


So as this column continues under the leadership of Teri, please continue to share the unique and wonderful stories that make us who we are.


In my case management career, I have signed off on many charts/electronic medical records, files, protocols, reports, articles, and presentations. Today I sign off as this is my last column. It has been an honor and a privilege, and I will always carry with me The Heartbeat of Case Management.