New Program Offered at Phelps Memorial Enhances Patient Journey

The Patient Navigator Success program focuses on helping patients overcome barriers that prevent them from getting the care they need.

This program started in June as an outreach to patients specifically in the Phelps Memorial Ortho/Spine Clinic and has quickly expanded to include collaboration with those receiving services in Same Day (Outpatient) Surgery and Phelps Medical Group. A patient navigator works with patients and families to help them find their way through the maze of our healthcare system.

“Our vision is that the patient navigator becomes the ‘Easy Button’ for our patients,” said Loren Schroder, Sr. Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer. “We give the patient one contact person that helps them navigate all parts of the healthcare system including general questions, appointments, billing/insurance, follow up with providers, etc.”

Kayla Rabe is the new Patient Navigator at Phelps Memorial and works as part of the Customer Experience team. She previously worked as a medical assistant in cardiology for several years in Lincoln before moving back home to help out with the family farm.

“I hope to positively impact patients through my role. I’m a huge patient advocate; always have been, always will be. I will always do what’s right for the patient,” Rabe said.

One patient in particular can already attest to that.

Steve Belmudez, of Funk, came to the hospital recently for his shoulder surgery but had to cancel the procedure due to issues with pre-operative clearance from another medical facility. Upon hearing about his situation, Kayla checked on why things weren’t done and after an entire week of making persistent phone calls and filling out paperwork, she was able to get the issue resolved for Steve to get his procedure done.

Unfortunately, one thing led to another and they found another roadblock in the system that kept Steve from getting the care he needed. Determined, Kayla made daily calls yet again and worked hard to get Steve approved.

Things finally started falling into place and Steve and Kayla were able to confirm a surgery date. Steve had his surgery in late July.

Steve described it as a “huge relief” and added,

“I am really glad I had Kayla because where else was I going to turn? I kept getting told ‘so and so will help you’ but it ended up being a waste of my time. I am so glad I never gave up.”

Prior to working with Kayla, Steve was ready to call it quits and just wait another four years to have surgery when he could retire. He said all he did was give Kayla phone numbers to call and she handled it all herself in a very short amount of time with very solid communication.

“She kept me in the loop which was huge,” said Steve. “It might not have been important to someone else, but it was important for her to call and say, ‘Hey, this is what I found out, can you come in?’ It makes me wonder if Kayla had never called, if I would have got any information.”

The Patient Navigator Success program, provided free of charge, is a great resource for anyone who needs a little extra care and assistance. Whether it’s a “time-consuming” issue or just a patient who’s confused and wants a quick walkthrough of something, the program is designed to help overcome obstacles in the healthcare system or to find resources in the same way as other expert “guides” solve problems and avoid pitfalls.

The long-term vision for this program at Phelps Memorial is to have dedicated navigators for each core service line.

“What I love about this program is Kayla saw that he had more needs than just getting through the complex medical system and figuring out when he could have surgery; he needed so much more than that. That’s what I appreciate about her; she sees it and she fixes it,” said Linda Fecht, Customer Experience Director.

“I will remember Steve my whole life. When I helped him, I knew I was in the right place, like this is where I’m meant to be,” said Kayla.

If you’re experiencing difficulties with your healthcare journey, or simply have questions that need answered, please reach out to our patient navigators at 308-995-3219.