Case managers are often the unsung heroes in a patient’s recovery. In conjunction with National Case Management Week, we asked for nominations for influential case managers who deserve some extra recognition. We were looking for professionals who are passionate about their work and go the extra mile for their patients. We found all that and more.
We had over 40 nominations from hospitals and community care programs across the country. Case managers were nominated by colleagues, supervisors and even former patients. We have loved connecting these incredible people throughout the week and as National Case Management Week comes to a close, we want to recognize a few of the outstanding case managers and will start highlighting their stories on our site.
Our first profile is of Christine Aguilar, a case manager at the South Texas Rehabilitation Hospital, who started a free community support group to help stroke survivors cope with the emotional side of recovery. Her story follows and we look forward to sharing more stories this month.
Texas Hospital Case Manager Starts Free Community Support Group for Stroke Survivors
Christine Aguilar, a case manager at the South Texas Rehabilitation Hospital, had a vision.
Many of the patients she sees at the Brownsville, Texas hospital have survived a stroke and are part of the hospital’s in-patient stroke rehabilitation program. “We’re always so focused on the physical piece of rehabilitation that we sometimes forget how strokes affect patients and their families emotionally,” she says.
Seeing a need in the community, Aguilar launched the Brownsville Stroke Support Group in June, which she coordinated with two other local hospitals. She facilitates free monthly meetings and brings in a volunteer team of dieticians, doctors, therapists and pharmacists. But the biggest benefit, she says, comes from the connection patients make with those who have shared a similar experience.
“Every meeting has been very emotional,” she says. “They see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel through someone else’s journey.”
Aguilar also works with patients who have had knee replacements, hip replacements, heart surgery or debilities following a long hospitalization. “It’s really important to make sure patients and families are involved in the rehabilitation process so they are knowledgeable, prepared and confident when they go home. It is inter-disciplinary work involving physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, case managers, physicians, nurses and pharmacists. We have an amazing team here and I couldn’t do what I do without their support.”
Aguilar earned a master’s degree in social work in May and says her goal is to move into hospital administration but keep the direct contact with patients.
“The job is very tiring and sometimes you feel unappreciated,” she says. “But then I pass a patient in the hall who says thank you or says that ‘because of what you’ve done for me I get to go home.’ It’s a daily reminder that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Aguilar was nominated for recognition by Salia Castillo, an administrator supervisor at South Texas Rehabilitation Hospital, who says: “Christine is a testimony of a genuine case manager. She always goes out of her way to help her patients and the community. The hospital has a great asset.”