When Larry Good’s wife, Rhonda, suffered septic shock from an E. coli infection and became a quadriplegic, the pair interfaced with dozens of specialists and juggled a litany of medications. Moving from hospital to rehabs and back was stressful for them both — not only because of the physical peril it placed on an immunocompromised Rhonda but because Larry was left to fill in the gaps where communication failed between Rhonda’s care providers. Acting as her advocate, Larry was responsible for the logistics of Rhonda’s care outside of hospital and rehab settings, as so many family members of patients are required to do.
“There was no one to talk to in the medical community who would help us and advise us on what’s the right thing to do next, and because I had to make some decisions without important input and context from medical professionals, we ended up making some really critical errors,” said Larry.
As Larry managed Rhonda’s condition over her remaining five years, he found that while each medical facility did their best to improve Rhonda’s outcomes while she was under their care, the lack of continuity between each provider was detrimental to her health. Larry had a few heroic doctors to lean on, but as he put it, those doctors “were independent, not systemic.”
Despite the best efforts of our nation’s doctors and hospitals, many patients and their families feel that they lack part of the critical support they need. For people like Larry and Rhonda, an advocate serving in a care coordinator role – also referred to as a patient navigator – can make all the difference. Care coordinators are not a new role, but they have not been readily available or adopted throughout the healthcare industry, and there are few educational programs that focus on upskilling current allied health professionals to ready them for these roles.
“The challenge facing the workforce isn’t just limited to a shortage of able-bodies. Reskilling and upskilling workers is critical as the healthcare industry deals with swift changes and evolving needs,” said Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan.
Futuro Health is working to meet the needs of families like the Goods with its Care Coordinator Program.
Another upskilling emphasis is telehealth skills which became in-demand because of the pandemic and is expected to remain so even after. Futuro Health offers tuition-free training for public health workers to complete the Advanced Telehealth Coordinator Program. Already, over 230+ health clinic staff attended thanks to Futuro Health and praised the 15-week fully online program for its relevance in helping them do their job better. In a recent focus group, an alumnus also complimented the Advanced Telehealth Coordinator Program for its flexibility and focus on equitable care, stating, “I really liked that it was online so I could work at it besides my contact tracing job. There’s a lot of people who don’t have access to healthcare because they live in rural areas or they’re in remote tribal areas. I think this [telehealth] is a way to make healthcare more equitable for people who don’t live in urban areas.”
In addition to two Care Coordinator programs (Behavioral Health and Chronically Ill) and the Advanced Telehealth Coordinator program, Futuro Health also offers the Behavioral Health Microcredential and Patient Care Representatives, which will train healthcare workers to care for various populations utilizing different patient care technologies and data measurement tools, as upskilling opportunities for existing healthcare workers.
For more information on Futuro Health’s upskilling opportunities for healthcare workers, please visit futurohealth.org.