Nurse case managers help wounded warriors receive optimal health care

By Rachel Parks, III Corps and Fort Hood Public Affairs

On any given day, the Soldiers of the Fort Hood Warrior Transition Brigade are undertaking a number of medical appointments as they navigate the path to healing and transitioning back into the military or into the civilian world.

Every step of the way, the Soldiers are supported by registered nurse case managers, who help coordinate the best care available for wounded warriors.

To the Soldiers of the Warrior Transition Brigade, or WTB, the nurse case managers are advocates, supporters and friends, who make sure the medical providers and the military chain of command are communicating clearly regarding the wounded warriors.

Cynthia Basham, a registered nurse case manager with the Fort Hood Warrior Transition Brigade, speaks with Staff Sgt. Christine Einig-Blackwell, a WTB squad leader Nov. 4, 2011. The nurse case managers serve as advocates and liaisons with Soldiers of the WTB, helping to keep lines of communication open about their care and treatment. Photo by Rachel Parks, III Corps and Fort Hood Public Affairs

“Our job here as the nurse case managers, is basically to coordinate all medical care so there’s a continuation of treatment for these guys and that everybody is on the same page,” said Cynthia Basham, a registered nurse case manager with Company C, 1st Battalion, WTB.

At Fort Hood, there are approximately 45 nurse case managers. Each nurse has approximately 20 Soldiers who they work with.

“They’re assigned one nurse case manager, who they can come to anytime with their medical issues,” Basham added. “Once they report those, we coordinate with their PCM (primary care manager) and we contact their specialty provider, so they do get the best care.”

“We keep communication open to take care of the Soldier,” added Carmen Boudreaux, a registered nurse case manager with Company D, 1st Bn., WTB.

But the nurse case managers take on a constantly evolving role with the Soldiers they work with. Boudreaux said she sometimes acts as a surrogate mother to young Soldiers who are hundreds of miles away from their families. Other times, she helps Spanish speakers understand their treatments or notes by translating information into their primary language.

She said each part of her job is something she cherishes.

“For me, it’s helping the Soldiers that are coming back from battle. They have a lot of issues,” Boudreaux said. “I’m so glad I can be there to help, not only them, but their families.”

At one time, Boudreaux was a nurse in a psychiatric unit. She said she often saw former service members in the unit, who were still dealing with the memories of Vietnam.

“I’m working in this program now and I look back and I’m amazed at how much help the Soldiers have now,” she said. “There are a lot of programs out there for them. All they have to do is request the help and we’re going to provide for them. We are taking good care of the Soldiers.”

The nurse case managers include both civilians and Soldiers. Lt. Col. Selina Williams, chief of WTB nurse case managers, came to the unit about five months ago after working as an operating room nurse at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.

“It’s just been fun and rewarding to make sure that we provide the Soldiers with everything the Army has to offer them. Whether that is medical benefits, or health and welfare benefits, I was just happy to be here to support that as a leader,” she said.

All levels of leadership of the WTB work with the nurse case managers and doctors to address any issues that arise with the WTB Soldiers and remain proactive in their treatment. To do this, the nurse case managers need to be tied in with the Soldiers and their families.

“The key thing is trying to create that bond with these Soldiers and make them feel comfortable enough so they can discuss their issues, mentally and physically,” Basham said. The wounded warriors always have access to a nurse case manager, Williams added.

“There’s always a nurse case manager available, 24/7, on weekends, on holidays, someone is always available,” she stressed. She added that she was amazed by the work the nurse case managers do on a daily basis.

“They put a lot of work into the Soldiers,” Williams said. “They don’t just sit down with them and say ‘have you made your appointments?’ This job is totally different than any other nursing job out there. Here, you’re involved 24/7.”

But the nurse case managers wouldn’t have it any other way.

“To me, this is very rewarding,” Basham said. “I get to give back to those that are fighting for my freedom and my family’s freedom.”

(As printed on www.army.mil)

About Julie Weckerlein

Julie Weckerlein is no stranger to the blogosphere. As a personal and professional blogger for the past 10 years, she further contributes to the internet as a web content manager for the Department of Defense. She's also an Air Force Reserve public affairs non-commissioned officer after a nine-year active duty career with assignments in Germany, Italy and the Pentagon, and a deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan as a combat correspondent for the Air Force News Service. Her affinity for science media started with her first magazine subscription to Ranger Rick at age 9 and she's never lost her excitement for the cool things happening in the world of science.
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  • Daisy Lear

    I am a licensed acupuncture provider in Colorado and have found the nurse case managers to be very helpful for our service men and women.  The nurse case managers have made sure that people with service related physical injuries can request a referral for acupuncture that is paid for through the federal government workman’s compensation program.  Once the paperwork is finished, the system is smooth and the men and women that need acupuncture are very well provided for through a civilian acupuncture provider, and their care is paid through the WC program.
    Thank you all for the work that you do for our service men and women, they need and deserve compassion and good health care.

    Daisy Lear
    daisylear@gmail:disqus .com