Coram nurses rise to the challenge during COVID-19 pandemic

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A global pandemic cannot stop Coram nurses from doing what they do best: providing critical patient care in the home or at one of our ambulatory infusion suites, helping patients avoid and prevent hospital stays, giving them the autonomy to administer their own medications, and providing emotional support. Infusion nurses not only provide important nursing care, they support, educate and reassure patients and caregivers who may be scared, anxious, and overwhelmed — something increasingly common during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This National Nurses Month, we're proud to feature a few of our over 1,000 Coram nurses here.

Jeannie Collazo-Torres

Jeanette (Jeannie) Collazo-Torres

Jeanette (Jeannie) Collazo-Torres understands what it takes to support patients with complex conditions requiring IV-therapy — a former Coram nurse, she now works for CVS Specialty focusing on pulmonary arterial hypertension, and is also supporting the Coram team during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though she is familiar with administering and educating patients about complex therapies (called ‘teaches’), Jeannie notes that new safety guidelines, personal protective equipment (PPE), and social distancing have made patient care more complicated. "We wear the full equipment: N95 masks, gowns, gloves, and goggles," Jeannie explains. "We talk with the patients, but we can't be close to them and it can be harder to provide emotional support."

Jeannie recently met with a COVID-19 patient who had been discharged from the hospital. She could see that both the patient and family members were scared. "It can be intense and scary for patients and families, but I try to come in and set everyone's minds at ease. As a nurse I have to sense what is needed." Sometimes that's a sense of humor, she explains, and sometimes it's someone to talk to or pray with.

Martha Silverspring

Martha Silverspring

A nurse for over 35 years, Martha Silverspring has been working in IV home care since 1992. She enjoys home care nursing because every day is different, and she loves people and the relationships she has built over the years. "In IV home care nursing, you work toward a common goal, and nothing breaks down barriers like working together towards a common goal."

Her home visits may look a little different during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Martha credits Coram and CVS Health for helping her continue doing her job while staying safe. "I keep hearing about shortages of PPE elsewhere, but we've had access to what we needed from the beginning."

Chris Keller

Chris Keller

Nurse manager Chris Keller loves the challenge he describes as "air traffic control" — coordinating arrival of a delivered medication from the branch to the patient, ensuring a nurse trained in administering the specific medication can be at the patient's home after delivery, etc. "It's a lot of logistics and juggling, but I have a fantastic team of support that helps get it all done."

Chris and his team were recently put to the test when a cruise ship with several COVID-19 patients onboard arrived in his hometown of San Diego. Coram was asked to help hospital patients who needed to be discharged quickly to make room for the quarantined passengers, and Chris and his team jumped right in. "Everyone stepped up. I'm fortunate to oversee an excellent team of nurses who said 'let's do it.' We got PPE equipment delivered to our branch, packaged it up, mailed to our nurses’ homes by the next day."

Jeannie, Martha and Chris are just a few of the dedicated Coram nurses providing exceptional care and support during this unprecedented time. We thank all of our Coram nurses for their courage and commitment to helping patients get and stay well.

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The Year of the Nurse — and COVID-19

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When the World Health Organization selected 2020 as Year of the Nurse, they didn’t know nurses would be on the frontlines of a global pandemic.

But like health care professionals around the world, CVS Health and Aetna nurses are working through the challenges of COVID-19, redefining the way health care is delivered and putting people on a path to better health.

“It's really a true opportunity to show our commitment, our effort and our skill in order to help other people.” — Todd Clair, RN, MSN
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“This is when we, as nurses, are needed the most,” says Todd Clair, a nurse and Care Manager for Aetna One® Advocate. “And it's really a true opportunity to show our commitment, our effort and our skill in order to help other people.”

Watch the video to see how our nurse practitioners, registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses and licensed practical nurses are showing that commitment every day.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

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The kindness behind the mask

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You could call it the kindness behind the mask. Since 2008, a sewing team has been meeting regularly within Aetna headquarters in Hartford, Connecticut. Their basement location is equipped with supplies, sewing machines and sergers — sophisticated sewing machines generally used to make quilts. Beginning with a core group of five volunteers, the team has grown to 40 volunteers led by 24-year employee and Aetna Volunteer Coordinator Denise Zachmann (who runs about 40 volunteer projects a year and holds down her job as an executive assistant in Government Marketing).

Usually volunteers focus on head scarves for cancer patients, scent cloths for premature babies and themed pillow cases for children attending the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. During the COVID-19 crisis, volunteers are sewing face masks at home. Masks go to multiple area hospitals and medical centers where the need is great. When it comes to supplies Denise needs to be resourceful. She re-allocates fabric from other projects. Elastic is scarce, so the team uses ribbon, bias tape and shoe laces.

Volunteer Bo Hallowell has been with Aetna for 23 years. Her “day job” involves project management for Government Marketing, but lately she’s also putting in dozens of personal hours sewing masks for first responders in her Windsor, Connecticut, community. “I’ve got it down to a science,” she says with a smile. A flood of material donations, says Bo, “is a beautiful example of a community coming together.” For Bo the work is personal: her daughter is a part-time EMT, her sister is a pharmacist and two cousins are police officers. They are on the frontlines serving the public and she’s helping to keep them safe so they can do their jobs.

Bo Hallowell, making face masks using a sewing machine.
Sewing protective masks is personal for Bo Hallowell. Her family includes health care providers and police officers.

Says Denise, “Bo has taken up the gauntlet — sewing about 150 masks a week and distributing them to local organizations meaningful to her, including the Granby, Connecticut, Police and nearby hospitals.

The sewing team receives support from Community Affairs, which connects with Aetna’s 56 plus volunteer councils. “Their work is a prime example of Aetna’s commitment to be local,” explains Floyd W. Green III, Vice President, Community Affairs. “The cost to Aetna is minimal, but the elevation of our reputation is priceless.”

The Hartford sewing team is determined to do what they can to help others during this challenging time. We thank them for their skill and their immense generosity of heart to help their communities.

Do you know a CVS colleague who brings their heart to work to help people on their path to better health? We want to hear. Email us at heartatwork@cvshealth.com.

Denise Zachmann, wearing a face mask.
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National Nurses Month: Spotlight on Accordant nurses

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People with rare diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, cystic fibrosis, and certain types of cancers, often require complex care and treatment regimens.

Now, they’re managing these conditions during a global pandemic.

AccordantCare, the CVS Health care management program for those with rare conditions, provides members with dedicated nurses who check in regularly by phone and nurse teams who are available around the clock. During COVID-19, they're providing more than standard care management support for members’ conditions — they are helping members adjust to new routines and challenges.

This National Nurses month, we’re proud to feature a few of our approximately 400 Accordant nurses here.

Phillip Ellison, RN, BSN

Phillip Ellison, RN, BSN

"We work with one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to infections because their immune systems are compromised," says Philip Ellison, an oncology case manager. Many doctors have switched patients from facility-based IV cancer treatments to oral medications so they can remain at home as much as possible. While this reduces the risk of infection, it means a new medication regimen and new side effects at a time when doctors can be less accessible. With an Accordant nurse team to call, members get their care management questions answered any time of day or night. 

Phillip and other case managers also reach out periodically to the members they support. "This population is often already isolated, but now even more so. Having case managers who telephonically reach out to them is more important than ever." One such member, living in a rural area with no internet access, first heard about the novel Coronavirus from Phillip's call. He was able to educate her on the virus's impact and importance of wearing a face covering for her lab visits.

Wendy Golob, RN, BSN

Wendy Golob, RN, BSN

Wendy Golob, a case manager, emphasizes Accordant’s whole-person approach to member support, assessing members' support systems, transportation access, and ability to take part in daily activities such as cooking and dressing in addition to medical needs. During COVID-19, this means community resources, grocery delivery services, and scheduling appointments with their doctors over the phone when needed.  

One member Wendy supports was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with COVID-19 and diabetes. He was given several discharge instructions as well as a strict diet regimen. Due to visitor restrictions, his caregiver was unable to have her questions answered by hospital staff. Wendy quickly scheduled a conference call to go over the instructions in detail, alleviating the caregiver’s concerns and empowering her to provide care with these new diagnoses. "She was so thankful for having that discussion," Wendy says.

Makayla Rhoades, RN

Makayla Rhoades, RN

Makayla Rhoades, a health management nurse, says many members call for help sorting through information they've heard from various sources, turning to the Accordant team for best practices and advice on symptoms that warrant medical attention. Makayla was an advocate for one of her members taking hydroxychloroquine for Lupus when the drug was being sought as a possible COVID-19 treatment. With all of her local pharmacies out of stock, Makayla helped a member locate an in-network mail order pharmacy to get her medication delivered on time.

Another member, feeling distressed after a hospital visit, sought Makayla's emotional support and assistance scheduling a telehealth visit with his primary care physician. "You do what you can to assist with their needs and have a positive impact on their health and life overall. It's those relationships that bring you to work every day," she says.

Melissa Gomez, RN, BSN, CCM

In her role as a health management nurse, Melissa Gomez translates health information for her Spanish-speaking members. Many of her members use interpreters and translators, but often don't like relaying personal medical concerns to a third party. Even going online, Melissa explains, is difficult when only a fraction of reputable health sites post content in languages other than English.  

One challenge Melissa highlighted is transportation access. During COVID-19, this means educating members, who are often immunocompromised, on CDC guidance to safely utilize public transportation and avoid infection. “When I get on the phone with my members, I envision what's going on, we talk about the issues, and we problem-solve together, says Melissa, "we have little moments of success with every member."  

During this challenging, uncertain, and unprecedented time, we thank all of our Accordant nurses for their resilience and dedication to making sure members receive the best possible care.

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Supporting our frontline workers during COVID-19

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During the COVID-19 pandemic our colleagues are on the front lines. They’re working in our CVS Pharmacy locations, call centers, warehouses and mail facilities. They’re caring for patients one-on-one in their homes and long-term care facilities.

To support them, tens of thousands of CVS Health employees are working behind the scenes to help them focus on serving our patients, members and colleagues. 

“Our purpose of helping people on their path to better health has never been more obvious than during this pandemic,” said Colleen McIntosh, senior vice president, Corporate Secretary and Chief Governance Officer.

Colleen’s team provides licensing support for CVS Health. They’re working through the pandemic to make sure “we can turn the lights on” in our stores.

“We are going to come out of this as a stronger, more collaborative, empathetic organization.” — Katie Long, Senior Director of Plan Sponsor Services at CVS Health
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Eileen Cook, a senior director in Learning and Development, works with nearly 500 colleagues spread out across the country. They’re remaining focused on orientation, onboarding and training — especially important as CVS Health is hiring 50,000 people in response to COVID-19.

In Plan Sponsor Services, Senior Director Katie Long oversees 300 colleagues. Some now are teleworking. Others are in the office working through social-distancing guidelines.

Despite the challenges, she remains positive.

“We are going to come out of this as a stronger, more collaborative, empathetic organization,” Katie says.

Watch the video to learn more.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

A CVS pharmacist prepares prescriptions while wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).
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Focusing on solutions for CVS Pharmacy patients

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Saurabh Mistry’s personal motto is “Don’t focus on the obstacles, always focus and devote your energies on the solution.” It’s a mindset that was instilled in Mistry at an early age by his father while growing up in India and one that he tries to pass along to his team every day as a pharmacy manager at a CVS Pharmacy in Texas.

Mistry’s solutions-driven approach to his work is part of what earned him a 2019 Paragon Award, which recognizes the best-of-the-best among CVS Health colleagues who deliver direct care to patients and customers. Now in its 29th year, the Paragon Awards honor colleagues who embody the core values of CVS Health.

Giving back also drives much of Mistry’s work. Whether it’s returning to his home country to help his childhood community, going the extra mile to ensure his pharmacy patients are being prescribed the proper medications or proactively working to save his patients money, Mistry always strives to help others.

Watch above to learn more about the fulfillment Mistry gets from his work and why he’s always aiming to be the best and have the best team in place for his patients.

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Making a difference in the lives of CVS Pharmacy customers

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For CVS Pharmacy Training Store Manager Pablo Heredia, putting his store colleagues and customers first is a natural extension of the commitment he has for his family.

“I tell my team, ‘Most of our patients are people that you don’t know what they’re dealing with, you don’t know the pain they have,’” Heredia explains.

That empathetic perspective helped Heredia earn a 2019 Paragon Award, which recognizes the best-of-the-best among CVS Health colleagues who deliver direct care to patients and customers. Now in its 29th year, the Paragon Awards honor colleagues who embody the core values of CVS Health.

Whether it’s making sure every pharmacy patient knows about the Rx Savings Finder, or training to become a pharmacy technician, Heredia is dedicated to making sure that every customer gets the best care possible when they walk into his San Diego, California, store, and inspires his team to do the same.

Watch above to learn more about what motivates Heredia daily to make a difference in the lives of his store customers.

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Keeping community at the center of care at MinuteClinic

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With approximately 1,100 locations nationwide, MinuteClinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants work every day to provide patients with convenient, personalized care that’s close to home.

One MinuteClinic provider who takes that work to heart is Aimee Kleppin, a family nurse practitioner who works out of a CVS Pharmacy in Queen Creek, Arizona.

Highly motivated and community-minded in her work, Kleppin was awarded a 2019 CVS Health Paragon Award, which recognizes the best-of-the-best among CVS Health colleagues who deliver direct care to patients and customers. Now in its 29th year, the Paragon Awards honor colleagues who embody the core values of CVS Health.

Born in Puerto Rico to parents who are both pharmacists, Kleppin knew from the time that she was in high school that she wanted to be a nurse practitioner. In her years of working for MinuteClinic, Kleppin has developed a following of patients who trust her clinical knowledge and appreciate her caring approach.

Watch above to learn about Kleppin’s dedication to her local community, including a program on hygiene that she developed the local schools, and why she’s continuously inspired to help others through her work.

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Helping Seniors Save Money Through SilverScript

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SilverScript, our Medicare-approved Part D prescription drug plan provider serving more than 5 million members, focuses on providing seniors and people with disabilities with consistent, worry-free coverage.

For Alexis Spina, one of our Pittsburgh-based colleagues, that focus is integral to her work every day. A clinical pharmacist, Spina works the Medicare call queue, educating members daily on lower cost drug alternatives that have the same clinical benefits as their current medications, tailoring her responses to each member’s specific level of understanding.

Her conversations with members have been so impactful that some of them have been developed into talk tracks that other colleagues on her team now use for their own calls.

Spina says that with each phone interaction she tries to make the patient feel like they are speaking with someone who truly cares about their well-being.

For her hard work and leadership, Spina was awarded a 2018 CVS Health Paragon Award, which recognizes the best-of-the-best among CVS Health colleagues who deliver direct care to patients and customers. Now in their 28th year, the Paragon Awards honor colleagues who embody the core values of CVS Health.

Watch to learn more about Spina’s passion for helping patients save money and live a healthier life.

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CVS Health Among Top Companies for Disability Inclusion

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2019 DEI ‘Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion’ logo.

CVS Health has earned a top score on the 2019 Disability Equality Index (DEI). This is the third year in a row that CVS Health has been given a score of 100 on the DEI, which is based on several criteria, including culture and leadership; enterprise-wide access and supplier diversity. Top-scoring companies earn the distinction of being recognized as a “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion.”

This is the fourth consecutive year that Aetna, a CVS Health business, has made the list.

Supporting Individuals with Disabilities in Our Workforce

At CVS Health, we understand the value of a diverse workforce and we have a number of programs in place to ensure that we are actively attracting, training, hiring and retaining individuals from many demographics, including those with disabilities.

Our Abilities in Abundance program, led by our Workforce Initiatives team, engages individuals with disabilities to provide job coaching and employment opportunities.

Through partnerships with community organizations nationwide, we’ve opened several training centers where individuals with disabilities can learn skills necessary for careers in retail environments, including most recently, the new Workforce Innovation and Talent Center, which opened in Cleveland, Ohio, in partnership with the Center for Children and Families.

Similarly, we operate several Regional Learning Centers, where we collaborate with government agencies, community organizations, and educational institutions to create job training programs that are often designed for individuals with disabilities.

And our Abilities Colleague Resource Group (CRG) helps to increase awareness of the important role that customers and colleagues with disabilities play in our workforce, workplace and marketplace by taking action to foster, at all levels of CVS Health, an inclusive, supportive environment.

A Comprehensive Assessment of Disability Inclusion

Launched in 2015 as a joint initiative of Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities, the DEI is recognized as the most comprehensive disability inclusion assessment tool allowing businesses to self-report their disability policies and practices.

180 companies from a diverse range of industries, including health care, technology and financial services, participated in the 2019 DEI. Of those, 113 were Fortune 500 companies.

In total, the participating DEI companies represent a workforce of more than 8.6 million, with 3.7 percent of employees identifying as having a disability.

2019 DEI ‘Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion’ logo.
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