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WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America
WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America

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Cathleen Schilling
Garden Grove, CA
oshenlits@aol.com


I am a Registered Nurse and I have been a case manager for over 15 years. It's been my experience as both a health care professional and a parent of children that suffer from chronic disease that the health care system in general pays little attention to the treatment of chronic conditions. Usually patients are treated as separate body systems instead of as a whole. Sometimes several specialists are involved in a case and they never speak to each other about a case.

It's my job as a case manager to make sure that health care providers are working together as a team to coordinate care and share information regarding a plan of treatment. Too often patients get lost in the system because they are in a chronic state of illness and don't have the strength or wherewithal to navigate the fragmented health care system. Again it's my job to advocate for the patient and ensure that medical problems are addressed and a plan of treatment is implemented.

Unfortunately, the term "case manager" has come to mean almost anything in the health care system -- from a layperson with no medical background at all to highly trained and skilled registered nurses with vast experience. In fact, in some rare situations physicians will refer to themselves as case managers. There are some excellent programs for the treatment of chronic disease, usually found in teaching centers affiliated with medical schools but unfortunately they are not available to many who suffer needlessly.

YOUR STORIES
Zoe Albright, Stroke
Betty Bennett, Kidney Disease
Roxanne Bedford-Curbow, Seizures
Valerie Brekke, Fibromyalgia
Lily Casura, Chronic Fatigue
Billie Davis, Peripheral Neuropathy
Penny Day, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Julia DeJesus, Seizure Disorder
MS Patient, Fairfax, VA
Charisse Farmer, Hydrocephalus
Katherine Fielder, Chronic Pain
Zoe Francis, Juvenile Diabetes
James Hines, Hemochromatosis
William Holford, Emphysema
Nancy K, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Patricia Lawson, Natural Rubber Latex Allergy
James Locke, Crohn's Disease
Gary Maslow, various
Kathy Matthews, Parkinson's
Andrea Meyer, MS
Gina Owens, Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome
Alicia Salas, Chronic Pain
Allison Scott, Chronic Pain
Deborah Serrano, Stroke
Becky Shively, Phenylketonuria
Jennifer Smallin, Type I Diabetes
Joanna Southerland, Diabetes
Alina Valdes, Cystic Fibrosis
Elizabeth Wertz, Seizures

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Jose Pedro Greer, Physician
W.F. Nagle, Physician
Ronda Riebman, Exercise
Cathleen Schilling, Case Manager
Jim Sykes

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