We were thrilled when Elizabeth “Liza” Blondeau, MSN, PMHRN-BC, CCM joined Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital-Bradford in March of 2023.
As the Director of Case Management, Liza plays an integral role in the rehabilitation and recovery process and helps patients and families rebuild their lives. She facilitates the coordination of patient care between case managers, nursing, therapy, and medical services to ensure the delivery of comprehensive and cost-effective patient-centered care.
Because patients now move across the healthcare continuum at a faster pace, the role of the case manager has become increasingly crucial in ensuring that the care delivered demonstrates efficacy and efficiency.
We spoke with Liza recently about her career in case management, and her goals for the case management department at Whittier.
Where did you begin your career?
I started in 2013 in long-term care after nursing school. I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, and Master’s Degree in Nursing Health Care Leadership from Granite State College, in Concord, NH.
What got you interested in case management?
It’s actually a funny story! I was doing home care and I fell down a patient’s stairs. I couldn’t do home visits for a while, but I was dying to get back to work, so I started back up as a case manager doing intake and quality assurance, doing chart audits, and things like that. And I liked it, so I stuck with it.
What are your goals at Whittier within the case management department?
My goal is to streamline the processes and introduce technology to help us be more efficient and have more face time with patients. Some of the barriers right now are related to technology, and if we can fix some of that, then we can have more face time and better outcomes, better patient satisfaction, and better discharge plans. So that’s one of my priorities. I also notice some things that are a real drain administratively on the case managers which take away from patient time. If I can help assist with streamlining and improving efficiency, then the patients will have more time with us, and better quality time, and that will improve patient satisfaction and lead to better discharge outcomes and so that’s one of my goals.
Do you have any advice for patients and families when they need to be admitted to acute rehabilitation?
Discharge planning starts with admission. Start considering varying options for discharge even at the beginning of a patient’s stay. As the patient progresses and we come up with a plan for discharge we will know what the options are, and we can more efficiently make the discharge plan smoother and better.
Is there anything you would advise patients to do before they are referred to acute rehab?
It’s a good idea to consider the goals of care and to consider long-term planning even during a short stay so that it can help guide the treatment team towards meeting those goals.
Do you have any advice for those who would consider a career in case management?
Some of the most successful case managers have worked in a variety of settings because then they will know firsthand whether a discharge plan they are developing is truly viable and realistic. People don’t necessarily require a specific discipline – case managers are nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, and physical therapists – but they all have an understanding of what home care can provide, what a skilled rehab can provide, what a step down can provide, and what resources are available in the community. This knowledge really does help create discharge plans that reduce readmissions.
Do you have any ‘success stories’ that stand out in your memory?
So, actually, my biggest success story was a program in 2017. I was invited to help develop a transitional housing program for patients who had been chronically institutionalized for various mental illnesses, to reintegrate them back into the community. Most psychiatric group home settings didn’t utilize nurse case managers, and so this program was unique in having nurse case management. Our outcomes were extraordinary – we had about a 90 percent reduction in rehospitalization and saved a ton of money keeping them in the community and so I was able to present these outcomes at a national psychiatric nurse convention.
What are your impressions of Whittier?
I really love the interdisciplinary collaboration here at Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital. I like that every department is ready to jump in and help — it is a very special environment to work in.
At Whittier, we are here to help you on your journey.
Each patient’s course of recovery is unique. The duration of rehabilitation is determined by the severity of the patient’s condition, their potential for improvement, and their response to treatment. The ultimate goal of our case managers, and the entire team at Whittier, is to maximize each patient’s functional independence and facilitate a safe discharge back to their home and community.