Care Direct employee stories
The day-to-day tasks and activities may be different, but there’s a common thread that connects all of us at Care Direct — the desire to meet patients where they are, and the latitude and flexibility to deliver the best care possible.
Take a look at these stories from both new and long-time employees and you’ll see a connection between our patients’ quality of life and the quality of our work lives.
HOME HEALTH RN
For Dan, the path to nursing was something that was embedded in his life from an early age. His mom was a nurse, as was his grandmother — but it was a moment while he and his family were camping that solidified his career path. A woman was drowning in a river while he and his family were nearby, and he helped to pull her out and performed the CPR that saved her life. “I had always been interested in the health field, but it wasn’t until that moment that I felt like it was the place for me,” he says. “I realized I wanted to help people.”
Dan’s new career started in hospice, where he became immersed in home health care. “I liked going into people’s homes — I’m comfortable in different homes, and it’s a challenge I find pretty interesting,” he says. “You have to be resourceful. You have to rely on what you have at your disposal — it’s not like hospitals or nursing homes, where you have access to more supplies and equipment. I like that you have to be creative.” It’s this reason — along with the knowledge that patients heal better and faster in their homes — that reinforced his desire to be a home health care RN. “When you go to the hospital, you go to remedy an immediate health issue. When you go home — that’s when the recovery really begins.”
It’s this emphasis on patient care — and literally meeting patients where they are — that Dan was looking for when he came to UW Health Care Direct. “I had actually worked with Care Direct when I was at other places, so I’ve known about them for about 12 years,” he says. “Whenever I worked with them, I always came away with the impression that they were interested in what I was doing — and they were always interested in helping. That interest is genuine. I thought to myself, ‘you can’t go that long and talk to so many different people there and have that many positive interactions.’ Turns out, you can — so I’ve always held UW Health Care Direct in high regard. It’s why I wanted to work here.”
Dan also appreciates that we’re in the business of saying “yes” to patients — and when patients are put first, it means a collaborative work environment for him and his colleagues. “If you’re in the nursing profession, you know that you need to get used to failure and not always knowing the answer. And, I don’t mean that in the way it sounds — it doesn’t mean we fail our patients. On the contrary — if we’re struggling with something, or if we know someone knows more about a particular thing that is new to us, being able to ask for help and take your ego out of the equation is everything,” he says. “At UW Health Care Direct, it’s all about getting the best outcome for the patient, so we work together. We ask each other for advice, we seek out the person who’s the best so we can learn from them.”
“So, when you can’t remember the last time you saw that particular infusion pump, or you aren’t as experienced with a procedure as you’d like to be, or you can’t figure out how to change the batteries — that happens, because we’re human! — it means you’re supported by someone who does. That makes you feel comfortable.”
TRAINING, DEVELOPMENT, AND REPORTING SPECIALIST
“You can be yourself here. They encourage you to be who you are as a person, and they understand they hired you as you.”
Thinking thoughtfully about healthcare is something that runs in Hannah’s family — her mother was the director of a department at a hospital in Dubuque, Iowa, and her family has also had its share of health issues. “Because of that, I’ve experienced some great healthcare situations, and we’ve also experienced some not-so-great ones,” she says.
It’s all of those situations she brings to her role as a home health billing representative at UW Health Care Direct. “I used to hear my Mom calling healthcare billing departments on behalf of my grandparents, and it’s something I think about often — our patients are going through health issues and I want to make sure I can make things easy for them on my end,” she says.
It’s part of why working here is such a good fit for Hannah, as she says that’s a big part of the company’s mission. “At UW Health Care Direct, we quote benefits back to the patients only after we’ve done thorough research. We don’t bill patients if we don’t have to — if there’s an issue with insurance, we’ll always follow up with the insurance company first, and don’t transfer that to the patient unless it’s absolutely necessary — they have the same goal. If there is a concern or an issue, we call and work through the issue that way. It seems simple, but it’s that direct communication that’s so important.”
Having autonomy in her role is something that’s also incredibly important to Hannah. “One thing I truly love about working here is that my previous job was one where I was incredibly micromanaged,” she says. “Coming here was a breath of fresh air. I was trained by someone, and I knew I could go to them — or my supervisor — with any questions. Once I was trained up, I was given my workload — but it was made very clear that we could do our work in the order it felt comfortable.
This makes such a huge difference — there’s an expectation that your work gets done, but you can also do things based on what makes sense for you. I’m not saying I never get asked to reprioritize or do things that weren’t on my to-do list — but there’s a large degree of ownership that I absolutely appreciate.”
Because of consolidation with the UW Health home health care entities, Hannah transitioned to her current role — previously, she worked with Medicare Part B billing. It’s another aspect of the company she appreciates — the consistent opportunities to learn new things. “I saw the opportunity to move into another position, and I took it. From my perspective, merging with UW Health means Care Direct is getting stronger. Our company was already affiliated with UW Health, and with all of these departments consolidating, there’s a ton of opportunity. It feels like we’re all learning together, and we’re a family, so we’re going to figure it out together.”
PATIENT REIMBURSEMENT COORDINATOR
Before Amy came to work with us, she was already knee-deep in healthcare and alternative medicine. “I was in a bad car accident, and I credit my chiropractor for really helping me through it. At one point he said, ‘have you ever thought about doing this?’ That was the beginning of my career in the medical field — I studied as a chiropractic assistant, certified in chiropractic radiology, massage therapy and some physical therapy in the chiropractic setting.”
From there, another car accident she witnessed and assisted with prompted her to begin working in Emergency Medical Services — until her need for a more flexible work schedule prompted another job search. “I had small children, and my friend told me to look into working at UW Health Care Direct — that they were very flexible — and that the work would still be fulfilling.” Over 16 years — and a variety of different job roles — later, Amy is still energized by what she sees here on a daily basis.
When asked if there’s a specific attribute a person needs to work at UW Health Care Direct, Amy says it’s a combination of things. “You have to be empathetic, and you have to have grit — you need the resolve to follow something through from beginning to end. You have to be willing to work hard, but you also have to be willing to have a bit of fun with your co-workers.” She smiles. “And, we’re a pretty fun bunch. We take patient care very seriously here, and we do whatever it takes to make sure that we’re doing everything in our power to make sure they have what they need.”
As a Patient Reimbursement Coordinator, Amy does just that. She’s assigned to patients from the beginning of their journey to the end, and serves as the liaison between the care team, third-party payers, patients, and billing for all financial arrangements and responsibilities.
Amy says the fact that employees are able to take ownership of their work is one of the main reasons why the team works so well together. “If I needed to get up and check in with my manager every time I needed to make a decision, our jobs wouldn’t get done, and patients wouldn’t get what they need — or it would take a long time.”
She recounted a recent experience with a new patient who wanted to use UW Health Care Direct for home infusion services. “I worked with the case manager who was doing the authorization, signed off on it, sent the contract, and got it returned. When I had a breath, I went to my supervisor and said, ‘Oh, by the way, I did this.’ Because we’re thinking about the patient first, my supervisor was happy we were able to get things done quickly, and this patient could start receiving what she needed.
PATIENT OPERATIONS COORDINATOR
Jennifer started as a Respiratory Therapist Assistant. Her primary responsibility was to help the therapists with “everything on the back end.” “The therapists and doctors see patients, work with patients, and find the best outcome for them,” Jennifer says. “And once that outcome was found, that’s where I came in — making sure they had proper documentation, obtaining the guidelines for their insurance, coaching a patient on how to turn their machine on and how to operate it, helping them figure out when something’s not working for them. It’s a lot of teaching, which is important. People can only recover when they know how to use what will help them get better.”
When you help them get better, Jennifer says, you get situations like the one that happened to her when she was still a Respiratory Therapist Assistant. “A man who I had previously helped secure some equipment just came through the door, and he said, “You made my life. Thank you. Everything was so great.” However, he needed the equipment back because he was still recovering, but the doctor hadn’t returned the equipment to us yet. So, we set him up for the short-term, and then I called his doctor and reminded him that the equipment needed to be returned.”
This story is important because to Jennifer, it represents our culture in a nutshell. “If I was working somewhere else, I might have asked my manager, ‘do you think I should call the doctor and ask about the equipment? Should I just wait? Should I send another fax?’ Because I work at UW Health Care Direct, they’ve instilled in us that they trust us to use our knowledge and expertise to make something happen or solve a problem. I knew what had to be done, and I did it.”
When asked what she appreciates most about working here, Jennifer says, ‘I’ve never worked at a company where you see everyone’s faces regularly. Susan (the HR Manager) will come to my door just to say ‘hi.’ Don Powell (CEO) is always walking around. It makes you feel like everyone’s on the same level — we’re all professionals, doing the best we can for the patients we serve. I’ve worked at some of the major healthcare providers here in Madison. I’ve worked in Janesville. Right now, I live in Beloit, and it’s an hour drive one-way.