As COVID-19 continues to impact our lives, many people have turned to family, friends or neighbors for help during this difficult time. For those without a network, it may be harder to know who to turn to for support. One couple in Nevada found the help they needed through a source some may not think to look — their health care plan.
UnitedHealthcare frontline staff are working tirelessly to help serve members during this uncertain time. Our health care professionals, like Agnes Mangahas and Keenan Partridge, are helping in ways beyond their usual responsibilities, which is to coordinate care and services for our members.
Agnes is a senior nurse case manager for UnitedHealthcare in Nevada. Her job is to follow up with members after they’re discharged from the hospital to help them avoid readmission. She checks in on members to ensure they’re recovering properly and accessing the resources or care they may need.
Recently, Agnes’ new case involved a member who had been released from the hospital, after testing positive for COVID-19. Agnes knew to call the member’s husband quickly after being released, and he sounded worried because his wife was out of breath and would soon run out of oxygen from the tank she received at discharge. Agnes went to work and quickly ensured the tank was replenished before it ran out.
Not long after that, Agnes called again to check in with the member’s husband, and could hear he had a bad cough. She worried he may have been exposed to COVID-19 and would need to self-quarantine. However, Agnes also found out that the couple was almost out of food, didn’t have internet access or friends or family nearby to help them get groceries. Agnes worked tirelessly to find resources to help.
She reached out to Keenan, a manager on her team, to see if he might know of any additional resources. Unfortunately, the couple didn’t qualify for some of the benefits provided through Medicare and Medicaid programs.
Agnes had an idea. She would go shopping and deliver the groceries herself. But she was considered high risk for COVID-19 exposure, per the CDC, due to her age and other health care factors. When she shared the idea with Keenan, he stepped in.
"I was faced with a choice, and I thought it was too much of a burden to ask Agnes to take on alone,” Keenan said. “A member needed us, and that's why we're here. It's our mission to help people live healthier lives. How can we say we exemplify that if we don't go above and beyond to help? Seeing the fire from Agnes and how serious she was about the well-being of this member and her husband, I could not help but match that energy. As a manager, I should have the same vigilance to help our members as our case managers."
Keenan put on his gloves and mask to head to the grocery store to pick up a cart full of fresh produce and other items for the couple. He made the delivery to the member and her husband — and even picked up the bill.
"I just want to thank Keenan for helping me," Agnes said. "I told the member, 'You'll never believe this, but one of the managers is coming to bring you groceries!'"
The couple was grateful for the delivery.
"Agnes and Keenan embody the idea of 'walking in the shoes of those we serve.' I'm humbled, privileged and proud to work with people like them," Nevada Health Plan CEO Don Giancursio said.
Keenan said the experience was a reminder of the importance of the work he and the team are doing.
"Hearing stories about fellow nurses on the frontlines, I sometimes wonder if I'm doing enough working from home — if I'm helping enough," he said. "But this experience and the positive response we've gotten has reminded me that those of us working busily behind the scenes are also having a major impact and changing lives for the better."