Nurse case managers help wounded warriors receive optimal health care
November 15, 2011
- Every step of the way, the Soldiers are supported by registered nurse case managers, who help coordinate the best care available for wounded warriors.
- "For me, it's helping the Soldiers that are coming back from battle."
FORT HOOD, Texas (Nov. 15, 2011) -- On any given day, the Soldiers of the Fort Hood Warrior Transition Brigade are undertaking a number of medical appointments as they navigate the path to healing and transitioning back into the military or into the civilian world. Every step of the way, the Soldiers are supported by registered nurse case managers, who help coordinate the best care available for wounded warriors.
To the Soldiers of the Warrior Transition Brigade, or WTB, the nurse case managers are advocates, supporters and friends, who make sure the medical providers and the military chain of command are communicating clearly regarding the wounded warriors.
"Our job here as the nurse case managers, is basically to coordinate all medical care so there's a continuation of treatment for these guys and that everybody is on the same page," said Cynthia Basham, a registered nurse case manager with Company C, 1st Battalion, WTB.
At Fort Hood, there are approximately 45 nurse case managers. Each nurse has approximately 20 Soldiers who they work with.
"They're assigned one nurse case manager, who they can come to anytime with their medical issues," Basham added. "Once they report those, we coordinate with their PCM (primary care manager) and we contact their specialty provider, so they do get the best care."
"We keep communication open to take care of the Soldier," added Carmen Boudreaux, a registered nurse case manager with Company D, 1st Bn., WTB.
But the nurse case managers take on a constantly evolving role with the Soldiers they work with. Boudreaux said she sometimes acts as a surrogate mother to young Soldiers who are hundreds of miles away from their families. Other times, she helps Spanish speakers understand their treatments or notes by translating information into their primary language.
She said each part of her job is something she cherishes.
"For me, it's helping the Soldiers that are coming back from battle. They have a lot of issues," Boudreaux said. "I'm so glad I can be there to help, not only them, but their families."
At one time, Boudreaux was a nurse in a psychiatric unit. She said she often saw former service members in the unit, who were still dealing with the memories of Vietnam.
"I'm working in this program now and I look back and I'm amazed at how much help the Soldiers have now," she said. "There are a lot of programs out there for them. All they have to do is request the help and we're going to provide for them. We are taking good care of the Soldiers."
The nurse case managers include both civilians and Soldiers. Lt. Col. Selina Williams, chief of WTB nurse case managers, came to the unit about five months ago after working as an operating room nurse at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.
"It's just been fun and rewarding to make sure that we provide the Soldiers with everything the Army has to offer them. Whether that is medical benefits, or health and welfare benefits, I was just happy to be here to support that as a leader," she said.
All levels of leadership of the WTB work with the nurse case managers and doctors to address any issues that arise with the WTB Soldiers and remain proactive in their treatment. To do this, the nurse case managers need to be tied in with the Soldiers and their families.
"The key thing is trying to create that bond with these Soldiers and make them feel comfortable enough so they can discuss their issues, mentally and physically," Basham said. The wounded warriors always have access to a nurse case manager, Williams added.
"There's always a nurse case manager available, 24/7, on weekends, on holidays, someone is always available," she stressed. She added that she was amazed by the work the nurse case managers do on a daily basis.
"They put a lot of work into the Soldiers," Williams said. "They don't just sit down with them and say 'have you made your appointments?' This job is totally different than any other nursing job out there. Here, you're involved 24/7."
But the nurse case managers wouldn't have it any other way.
"To me, this is very rewarding," Basham said. "I get to give back to those that are fighting for my freedom and my family's freedom."
November is Warrior Care Month. This year's theme is "Healing the Mind, Body, and Spirit: Unlocking Unlimited Potential."