What does it mean to be a Case Manager? It means pushing past the impossible to find a way to make things happen. Here’s an example, we’ll call “Gabe’s Exciting Trip Home”:
Gabe was at Camp Simcha in NY when his parents called to say a long-awaited surgery date had become available. Great news except…it was a long weekend and travel options were limited. Gabe’s Case Manager Sara spent the whole day on the phone exploring options because missing this surgery was not something we wanted.
The closest airport was 2 hours away in Newark and both Gabe and his counsellor needed to find seats to head back. Turns out you can’t book 2 people on a trip if one is going only one way and the other is round trip. And Sara couldn’t book them separately because Gabe is a minor (she found this out after waiting for 45 minutes for a customer service rep!). Next step was calling the airlines directly. Sara was given the same message over and over, “Sorry, nothing available for the day and time you need. Did you know it’s a long weekend??” Meanwhile, Sara called everyone we knew in the Catskills to see if anyone was driving back to Toronto in the next 2 days with room for a little boy who would keep them entertained the whole way. No luck.
Then Sara tried calling a travel agent to see if there was any magic they could work. The best they could do was over $2500, with lousy timing, and to the wrong airport. It was our best lead so Sara begged him to hold the seats. He kindly did but called her every hour to remind her that these were the last seats on a long weekend… Sara wondered if maybe the camp driver could drive Gabe to Syracuse and we could find someone to drive the other way and meet them halfway but that didn’t work out either. Next, Sara looked for a car to rent anywhere in the Catskills so that Gabe’s counsellor could drive him to Buffalo where his parents could meet there to cross the border. But, of course, no cars were available because of the long weekend!
At this point, things were looking dire. Sara called the Executive Director to let him know Gabe might not make it for his surgery. Well, the director took the baton from Sara and started making some calls, finally finding a friend with a private plane who is able to take the little guy for a quick ride to Niagara Falls, NY. Crisis averted!
Want to know what this looked like on the parents’ side? They heard about the appointment, called Sara to let her know, and then continued to make plans on their end. Next thing they knew, they got the call to pick Gabe up in Niagara Falls, NY. They didn’t know all the work Sara did behind the scenes and were saved any worry about whether or not Gabe would get back in time. That’s what Case Managers do.