By Zandy Dudiak Communications coordinator
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last spring, the Service Coordination (SC) Department was sidelined. “We were asked to reinvent ourselves without having person-to-person contact,” says Barb Leach, the nurse health navigator for the SC unit.
In her role as a resource for service coordinators, she took on providing information about the novel coronavirus via Zoom for the benefit of persons served and her colleagues.
Though the Zoom sessions started as COVID-oriented presentations, over the year they blossomed into 34 other health care topics, such as aging bones, autoimmune disorders, and women’s health.
“The Zoom avenue has been a pleasant surprise,” Barb says. “Many service coordinators are finding it helpful and are joining even if they can’t get their persons served to join.”
The service coordinators can attend the lunch-and-learn-type sessions at noon on Tuesdays; the session is repeated again at noon on Thursdays. The service coordinators often share what they learn and the resource materials with the persons they serve at a later time.
For 2021, Barb launched a new, five-part “Diabetes” series geared toward those living with the disease. The series, which ends the last week in February, also offered a perfect segue into American Heart Month and heart issues, such as pacemakers, coronary heart disease, and hypertension.
“Diabetes and blood pressure go hand in hand,” she notes. “Heart health is important if you have diabetes.”
Her role within Pittsburgh Mercy is grant supported through Community Care Behavioral Health (CCBH), which advocates wellness coaching. Barb works diligently to compile the information she presents in graphics, charts, and easy-to-understand language.
She has two audiences to reach: the persons served who need to understand the topics for their own health and the service coordinators, who want to understand it on a different level.
Often, her colleagues, therapists, and psychiatrists are missing data about the physical health of a person they serve (such as accurate medication lists) and it’s important to connect the team for collaboration of care.
“Community health care in general has for a very long time been problem focused,” she says. Service Coordination aims to connect persons served with resources that are whole-person centered. We are all well aware of how serious mental illness affects the physical health of our persons served and my goal as a nurse navigator is to keep this a priority focus.”