By Marlena E. Bermel

Care Planning in a Pandemic

Case Workers Enable Medically Fragile Children to Remain at Home

Imagine having a child who depends on a ventilator and feeding tubes, one who requires total care for all their daily needs. Now imagine caring for that child during a pandemic.

Jan Martin, DNP, RN, CCM, assistant professor in The University of New Mexico College of Nursing, is working with the UNM Center for Development and & Disability's Medically Fragile Case Management Program to address the needs of some of the state's youngest and most vulnerable residents in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

RN case managers advocate a family-directed approach to care, providing service coordination for children who are medically fragile and their families. They offer client/family education and facilitate access to the complex network of resources needed to support these children living at home with their families.

COVID-19 has affected both the priorities and the interventions available for these case managers, Martin says.

They now must work to ensure that their clients and their families are prepared to be safely sheltered in place during these next few months while many of their care providers and home care resources have significantly diminished access. Ensuring they have critical medical supply and equipment, prescriptions, food and other items while minimizing exposure outside the home is crucial.

"Our biggest concern for these clients and families is having what they need to be home for the next three months," Martin says. "If their complex medical conditions can't be managed at home they will require inpatient hospitalization."

Martin's expertise is supporting the program in care planning strategies, resource identification, quality management and navigating policy approaches that support families in getting what they need in these uncertain times. She holds national certification and has more than 25 years of experience in case management.