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Case managers' association gains national status

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

A case managers' association that was organized a little over a year ago is now an official member chapter of the national Case Management Society of America.

In late 1997, a group of case managers from the Springfield area decided to form a group to help area case managers network and identify resources, said Lisa McKnight, who is now president of CMSA of Springfield and the Greater Ozarks. The case managers' group wanted to affiliate with the national association, but needed about 20 members to do so. At the time it became an incorporated chapter, in October of 1998, the group had 19 members, McKnight said.

Case managers are health care officials who take on a patient's case when there are special circumstances. Case managers provide constant oversight and analysis to see what is within the boundaries of the individual's health insurance benefits, and to determine exactly what care is needed.

"Our main goal is to get the patient the absolute best care we can, and the care they need," McKnight said.

Case managers may be nursing or social work professionals, and there are some case managers in the field of physical therapy, said Joyce Eiken, who is immediate past president of the local case managers' association. Most of the case managers who have attended the association's meetings have been nurses, but a few have been social workers, Eiken said.

The number of members is "really healthy for the first year," McKnight said. The association has been sending information out to those who have requested it; so far, about 175 people have asked for information about the group. The chapter is allowed to recruit members within a 60-mile radius of Springfield.

The association's purpose is to help case managers identify resources in the community and to learn more about given conditions and how they can help clients who have those conditions, Eiken said. The association has had meetings on a range of topics: asthma, the Americans with Disabilities Act and pain management are some examples.

"One of the benefits is that we get an opportunity to meet other people and see what other case managers do, how they handle their problems. It broadens our viewpoint and allows us to see more aspects of the job," Eiken said.

The educational meetings also introduce the case managers to new technology.

"Technology is changing every day. This helps us learn about the new equipment that's out there and helps us to keep the quality up," McKnight said.

The association helps case managers meet their daily challenges, Eiken said.

"Our challenge is always to get the patient the care they need, whether it's inside or outside their benefits. We have to be able to relay the information accurately to them about what we're doing, and this is one of the ways we can learn more about it," Eiken said.

The officers of the association are McKnight, president; Lesa Sturtevant, president-elect and vice president; Connie Archdale, treasurer; and Mary Drake, secretary. For more information on the case managers' association, call 881-8510.

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