Director of Case Management Carol Klessel, RN, MSN, was recently faced with the challenge of helping a Florida truck driver who was sick and far from home.
“He was COVID-19 positive, but ready to be discharged,” she explained.
Due to travel restrictions, Klessel contacted the state Department of Health for guidance.
“They said he couldn’t travel for ten days,” she said.
Once he was discharged from the hospital and quarantined in his hotel room, he needed his medications which were left in his tractor trailer, and he couldn’t retrieve them.
“We couldn’t replace his daily medications because he had been discharged and we’re not a dispensing hospital,” she said.
In order to help the man, Klessel called his medical insurance provider and learned she could get his medications from a VA Hospital.
“I called the VA hospital in Delaware, but it was late so the pharmacy was closed,” she said. “I talked to a former co-worker who works there now. She helped to get his medications filled through the VA Hospital’s ED and dropped them off to the man at his hotel on her way home from work.”
Case managers are responsible for ensuring patients receive the proper care during and after their hospital stay.
“It can be a challenge, but it feels good when everything comes together,” she said.
When Klessel first came to Salem Medical Center in 1990, she was an ICU nurse.
“That was always my dream,” she said.
She tended to patients in the ICU for more than 10 years before she began to look for a new role.
While working toward her BSN, she met a nurse who was a case manager.
“She would talk about her job, and got me interested,” she said. “The position opened up here and I was hired.
“That was the very beginnings of case management here. There were only two of us when it first started. We weren’t even a department.”
Today, her team consists of five case managers and two social workers.