Tag Archives: navigation

Bridging Hospital and Community: Family Navigator program expands

Sam Murillo, Director of Navigation Programs
Sam Murillo, Director of Navigation Programs

Four years ago, Family Voices Colorado received funding from the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to start a pilot program at Children’s Hospital Colorado, in which a Family Voices staff member would be based at the hospital three days a week to help families navigate systems and connect with community resources. Sam Murillo was that Family Navigator for the first three years, laying the groundwork, helping hospital staff understand the unique gifts of the role, and working through challenges common to any pilot project.

Sam explains what makes family navigation unique:

Navigation is a unique service delivery model that serves as a natural bridge from the health care setting to the community. It extends traditional care coordination, case management and social work roles by providing training and education on the various medical and non-medical systems to families and hospital staff. Navigation also provides direct advocacy as appropriate and needed in resolving systemic barriers. Together, all of these methods create an approach that honors the principles of true family-centered care.”

As the hospital navigation program celebrates its four-year milestone this August, Sam finds himself in a new role, as Director of Navigation Programs. The pilot project was very successful, with the navigation program recognized as an effective service delivery model and highly valued as part of the Neurology and Child Health Clinic teams. Dr. Carolyn Green, a physician in the Neurology Clinic, explained in a 2012 survey of hospital staff regarding the program,

“Having Sam in the role of Navigator not only eases the mental burden for the families but improves my ability to provide excellent medical care. Often I am sure a family would benefit not only in a social or financial way but also in a medical way by having access to community based resources, like the epilepsy foundation, which provide disease and treatment information.  Although intentions are good to share that information, it is not feasible to cover all resource information during a visit. Often families need to process what they have been told at a visit before they are able to use some information and having a facilitator outside the visit time but inside the system is tremendous.”

And the project’s success is far more than anecdotal: in the four years since the Family Navigator program’s inception, the Neurology clinic reported a 32% decrease in emergency department utilization. In that same time period, the Family Navigator completed over 4,000 encounters with patients and families, on average seeing or talking with each patient/family about 20 times to connect them with the resources they need, to help them navigate systems and services, and to troubleshoot barriers and obstacles they encounter.

Thanks to Sam’s hard work and these highly promising results, the Family Navigator program has recently entered into a direct contract with Children’s Hospital Colorado, where a new Family Navigator, Colette Christen (who previously worked as the Resource & Systems Navigation Specialist, staffing our Provider Helpline), is now full-time in the Neurology Clinic, and Susana Herrera has moved into the role of Family Navigator for the Child Health Clinic. In addition, a separate grant has allowed the program to expand to Denver Health’s Special Needs Clinic.

Looking to the future, Sam has a vision of the growing, mutually beneficial relationship between Family Voices Colorado and health care providers serving families of young people with special health care needs:

“The navigation model not only amplifies the presence and awareness of Family Voices, but also increases the ability of specialty and primary care settings to meet the complex systemic needs of families. While FVC remains available to [hospitals] as a whole, many clinics have shown interest in creating a designated Family Navigator role as well. As we grow and build momentum, we are committed to an intentional planning process that will develop further infrastructure, standardization across environments, and best practice policies and procedures.”

Just one more way that Family Voices is making Colorado a better place for children and youth with special health care needs!

Family Voices Colorado selected for the Connect for Health Assistance Network!

We recently learned our application was approved to become an Assistance Site with Colorado’s Connect for Health Assistance Network! This means Family Voices Colorado will be one of 58 organizations providing in-person assistance to customers of the new health insurance marketplace starting in October.

Read the full press release from Connect for Health Colorado

Family Voices Colorado (FVC) has nearly 20 years’ experience helping consumers navigate both public and private health insurance  applications, eligibility, benefits, and appeals. Specializing in resources for families of children and youth with special health care needs, FVC will continue this focus while also being available to others needing help understanding their options in the new health insurance marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado.

As part of the Connect for Health Assistance Network, FVC will serve our community across Colorado, helping individuals, families and small employers better understand the new landscape of health insurance. At least two of our staff will serve as Certified Health Coverage Guides, providing unbiased assistance with considering health plan options, applying for insurance affordability programs and enrolling in health coverage. In addition, we will conduct outreach and public education about Connect for Health Colorado and the range of health coverage and financial assistance options.

View the complete list of Assistance Sites

We here at Family Voices Colorado are honored to be chosen for this role and excited to begin helping individuals and families better understand how health insurance works under the Affordable Care Act and Colorado’s own health care reform efforts!

ConnectforHealthLogo-centered2More about Connect for Health Colorado

Starting in October, Connect for Health Colorado will offer individuals, families and small employers a new online marketplace for health insurance and exclusive access to new up-front financial assistance, based on income, to reduce costs. Customers will shop through a website and get expert help in person and over the phone from a network of customer service professionals, including Customer Service Center Representatives, Health Coverage Guides and certified health insurance agents and brokers. The marketplace is a public, non-profit entity that was established by a 2011 state law. More information is available at www.ConnectforHealthCO.com.

Early Intervention: A stitch in time…

Have you ever noticed how many proverbs and sayings relate to thinking ahead? A stitch in time saves nine. A penny saved is a penny earned. Look before you leap. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Early Intervention Colorado logoWhen it comes to children’s healthy development, there’s a step between prevention and “cure,” and it comes in the form of Early Intervention. Over the years, health care professionals have found that identifying delays in development, whether physical, cognitive, or behavioral, and diagnosis of ongoing health conditions at an early age, and addressing them immediately, can make a tremendous difference in long-term outcomes. Because this is not only better for the child and family, but also more cost-effective, than waiting until more serious problems develop later in life, many early intervention services are publicly funded, meaning that families do not have to pay directly for thingsBaby Corrine & Grandma like speech, physical, or occupational therapy.

Anyone can refer a child for screening to find out if they are eligible for early intervention services, whether you are a family member, doctor, child care provider, or other concerned individual. Visit http://www.eicolorado.org/ or call 888-777-4041 to talk to someone at Early Intervention Colorado about the process of making a referral, or the services and supports available.