Priscilla Garrett is the Integrated Care Manager for Kadima’s Integrated Health Care Initiative, launched in 2016 and made possible by a $205,500 three-year grant from The Jewish Fund. She joined Kadima as a direct care worker in 2013 and was promoted upon completion of her board certification in 2016.
By Priscilla Garrett
Before I came back to Michigan to go to school, I worked at a group facility in Dallas. It inspired my desire to continue working in a group environment and supporting individuals who may traditionally be overlooked in the community. It didn’t take long to fall in love with Kadima and our clients, motivating me to excel in my board certification when the Integrated Care Manager position became available as part of the Integrated Health Care Initiative.
The Integrated Health Care Initiative provides our clients the opportunity to get the full spectrum of mental and physical health attention in one place, with streamlined communications between therapist and physician.
Physical and mental health is reciprocal. There’s so much more to someone than just his or her mental health, and in many cases, mental health directly affects physical health. You cannot look at each separately because you’ll ultimately be doing a disservice to your client. At Kadima, we’re able to establish a more comprehensive care plan for our clients because we’ve already built a foundation with them.
On an average day, I’m in the Lois and Milton Y. Zussman Activity Center meeting with our clients, some on a weekly or daily basis depending on their needs. Sometimes I’m just monitoring blood pressure or weight, and other times, I can assess an emerging physical symptom that may require follow up care, especially since I’m regularly providing health screenings for our clients. I’m also the person who leads the wellness programs for our client, like smoking cessation or weight loss support groups.
I’m the one clients can come to if they are not sure what could be medically wrong and if they need to make a hospital visit. I’m the intermediary who helps them tie together the input from their therapist and physician. I help make sure they follow their health and behavior plan correctly and reinforce its importance. I’m also helping them advocate for themselves with their physicians when they need more information but may be too afraid to ask.
Seeing me regularly, we’ve developed a trust with one another, so our clients feel comfortable with me. On a regular basis, I hear our clients tell me how excited they are for Kadima to have a nurse on-site to help them understand their health. They feel like their voices have been heard by Kadima, since several of them had asked about the possibility of having an on-staff nurse.
Admittedly, not every day is an easy day when you’re trying to help a client understand and embrace new care plans. But for me, every day that I’m helping someone, even when a client is resistant, is a good day. Every day I get to see a new face and learn more about each individual at our center. It’s an amazing experience to be part of someone’s journey toward independence and see them achieve that independence.