1. Prince, Melanie A. MSN, NE-BC, CCM

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October 11-17, 2020, is National Case Management Week, and this year's recognition is one for the record books as the world copes with and recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. As with most health care professionals, case managers have found themselves adapting to the challenges of coronavirus disease impact on "care management as usual." Case managers are uniquely equipped to tackle the most complex problems, but the added pressures of keeping one's self safe, juggling family and social disruptions, and coordinating care in overwhelmed, or conversely closed, facilities have turned up the pressure valve. Many case managers continue to manage significant caseloads while managing home schooling, child care, head of household responsibilities, family medical advisor, and teleworking. It's a lot!


It is critically important for case managers to pause and devote deliberate time to Resist, Recharge, and Regroup. Case managers are celebrated for the outstanding care provided to patients, families, and clients. Case managers are also notorious for acting above and beyond, often neglecting (while unintentional) their own personal needs. However, the COVID-19 environment shines a light on the many demands and pressures on case managers, professionally and personally. Resist operating from a place of fear or anxiety. Resist the urge to conquer it all ... whatever the "it" may be. America demonstrates its compassion and generosity for others during times of crises, and this is the moment when asking for help may be the easiest. There are many people who are looking for ways to support others or give back to the community in small and large ways. Have the courage to let someone know you can use a hand. Resist the status quo of managing it all.


Find ways to recharge and find your center. Today's stressors, in some ways, are unprecedented. Some have lost a loved one and struggling to maintain a caseload while grieving. There may be friends or relatives who are ill from COVID-19 or other illnesses but having difficulty accessing the health care system because of the increased demand. The pressures of job loss for the case manager or a family member who contributed to the household income may be completely draining. You may have been reassigned to a new clinical area that is unfamiliar but critical to meeting the COVID-19 cyclical surges. Be deliberate about scheduling time to recharge every day in some small way. I made a list of activities that puts me in a "happy place." From gardening and trying new recipes to contacting a different acquaintance or taking photographs of interesting things that I had never stopped to notice before gives me a boost. I exhaust a new list every week for my "recharge moment." My mood and energy have sustained a level of positivity despite these trying times.


Finally, case managers should use this time to regroup. Crises birth opportunities. Problems fuel solutions. The COVID-19 environment has produced drastic changes in the way we live, work, and play. But these changes can be shaped to produce new roles for case managers. For example, occupational case management has typically functioned in the context of injury recovery. The COVID-19 workplace has different concerns such as a renewed emphasis on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance, employee screening, contact tracing, and safety monitoring. Occupational case managers can transition to a population health approach and manage a cohort of at-risk employees in the workplace and prevent lost duty time or long-term illnesses. Case managers can regroup and become experts in home monitoring technology, evolving the telehealth market using artificial intelligence. Post-COVID-19 America will necessitate greater engagements with the mental health community. The need for sustained contact tracing will produce new roles for case managers interested in working within the public health arena.


One can sometimes find a silver lining in the most difficult of times. But one must have the strength and courage to resist operating from a place of fear. Being stuck on the same page prevents one from turning to the next chapter, and case managers are perfectly positioned to write new stories. Invest time to recharge and find your center. Recharging provides the space to think clearly and regroup as a practice and profession.


In closing, leverage your member association in this changed environment. The Case Management Society of America is not just an organization but rather a collection of nurses, social workers, and other health care professionals who share a common goal of helping people achieve their best selves or a new normal of health. The COVID-19 environment should inspire a new, innovative normal for case management practice in the myriad of care, community, hospital, school, and industrial settings that will be operating differently in the months and potentially years to come. Let's lead the way!