Nurses, Social Workers, Case Managers Recognized by Local Health Plan
In honor of National Nurses Week (May 6-12), CenCal Health is taking the opportunity to publicly recognize all workers who improve the lives of others through “giving care.”
At the largest health plan on the Central Coast, there are over 60 employees whose job description contains the word “care”. These employees are experienced nurses, licensed social workers and dedicated case managers in various departments at CenCal Health, including Health Services, Quality Management, Medical Management, Utilization Management and Provider Services. Although they may not work in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital, they play an integral part in managing the health of hundreds of thousands of Medi-Cal members in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Three are highlighted here:
Laci Crouch is a former hospital emergency room nurse with a Texas accent. After 15 years of nursing in her home state, Crouch moved to California and went to work for CenCal Health which was just starting a specialized pediatric unit to support Medi-Cal members who are also eligible for California Children’s Services (CCS). These special health services are for children and teens who have chronic medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, cancer, and traumatic injuries. As a Health Plan Nurse Coordinator, Crouch is a senior member of the team that manages the treatments and care of these vulnerable children. “Every day and many times a day, I get to help children and families improve their lives,” said Crouch. “It might be approving a request for a wheel chair repair for a young boy. That might not seem like a big deal to most people but for a low-income family – whose fragile child has grown too big to pick up and carry – a functioning wheel chair means the world.”
CenCal Health employee Rose Vazquez, LCSW serves members in the Pediatric Case Management department. As a pediatrics social worker, Vazquez provides “psycho-social” support to at-risk children who require highly complex medical services, often including physical and occupational therapy. Frequently, these children are in families that have no or low income so they also need to access vital resources such as housing and food. “One family I worked with was struggling with transportation to medical appointments, and the child member needed an important follow-up appointment after a recent surgery,” recounted Vazquez about the single-parent family who was also struggling with homelessness. Vazquez moved quickly to connect the family to a social service agency that could help with transportation. “Over the phone I assisted this overwhelmed parent, simultaneously using my computer to fill out her application for a gas card, and submitting it just in time so that the family could drive a friend’s car to see that physician.”
Growing up in a family that also needed social service programs, Vazquez has, in her words, “been doing this work my whole life.” As a young child, she was the interpreter between her Spanish-speaking mother and the social workers and agency employees that aided her family in need. This experience led Vazquez – with her obvious resilience and caring heart – to go on to college at UCSB and graduate school at USC, successfully achieving her career goal of becoming a licensed clinical social worker.
Both Crouch and Vazquez emphasized the importance of “the team” at CenCal Health. They each mentioned the admirable work of the “CSAs” or Clinical Support Associates, who assist with member health management. For the past six years, Angelica Laurel-Castro has served as a CSA at the health plan. When she describes her day-to-day job responsibilities, it appears she is a combination of detective and educator. Tracking down medical records for a patient who recently moved from another county and had mixed up her medications, or finding local services that will help a member and their family with food scarcity, are just two examples. “I love my job because I love helping people,” said Laurel-Castro. “Maybe because I had a mother who always helped others in our neighborhood – early on I followed her lead.” Before coming to CenCal Health, Laurel-Castro worked 20 years in public health for Santa Barbara County.
Laurel-Castro summed it up, “to have a member patient call you ‘an angel’, to feel the gratitude of a lonely senior after you’ve taken extra time to schedule their medical appointments, to be able to give individualized attention to someone in need – that is the greatest reward of a care career.”
About CenCal Health
CenCal Health is a community-accountable health plan that partners with over 1,500 local physicians, hospitals and other providers in delivering patient care to more than 200,000 members – about one in four residents of Santa Barbara County and one in five residents of San Luis Obispo County. A public agency, the health plan contributes approximately $50 million a month into the local economy, primarily through payments to healthcare providers who serve its membership. Established in 1983, it is the oldest managed care Medicaid plan of its kind in the nation. View its annual Community Report at cencal2020.org
# # #
Media Contact: Sheri Mobley (805) 845-5627, 213 509-9816 email@example.com