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Don’t overlook the nurses

Saturday, May 8, 2010

By Mary Beth Newman


For months Americans have been consumed by the national health care reform debate. But what has been missing in this very robust dialogue is appreciation for, and understanding of, the dedicated men and women who serve as nurse case managers for health benefits companies. As a nurse who has worked for 14 years in case management for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Ohio’s largest health insurer, I witness every day the extraordinary services we provide to our clients through the wellness, disease and care management programs we offer.

Every day I collaborate with more than 3,000 other registered nurses within our company who are dedicated to improving the lives of the people we serve and the health of our communities. As nurses, we engage and empower members, assisting them in managing chronic conditions such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes. We partner with our physician and provider communities to facilitate and enhance the coordination of care, while promoting privacy, efficiency and consistency. We perform analytic research to evaluate and establish standards for health care quality and safety. From management of our business to management of disease, from patient outreach to innovation, as nurses we contribute to all aspects of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Unheard voice

Nurses are often the unheard voice in the health care industry – our impact outside of the physician’s office or hospital often goes unrecognized. We provide our services in a multitude of settings, from clinics and hospitals to schools and corporations, including health insurance companies like the one I work for. This work done by America’s 3.1 million registered nurses every day to save lives and maintain the health of millions of individuals is the focus of this year’s National Nurses Week, celebrated annually May 6-12 throughout the United States.

I am proud of the work that I do and I believe that as everyone in the health care industry works to implement the health care reform legislation and provide access to high quality, lower cost health care for all Americans, it is important to remember the significant comfort and care nurses bring to millions of Americans. Our commitment and contributions should not be questioned or ignored, but rather embraced and celebrated.

Mary Beth Newman is the Case Management Program Manager for the Clinical Transplant program at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio. She was recently appointed as President-elect of the Case Management Society of America.