Happy baby, happy family
When Mika Hand and Butch Hazzard of Freeville held their healthy, newborn daughter Maggie this April they felt the warm glow of happy parents and gratitude for a team of nurses and physicians in a new Cayuga Health Partners program who closely monitor patients with chronic illnesses.
Mika was a patient of Adam Law, an Ithaca internal medicine physician specializing in endocrinology at his IthacaMed practice and Cayuga Medical Center’s expanding diabetes and endocrinology program. When Mika learned she was pregnant, Dr. Law knew his patient would need regular, intensive help to manage her diabetes and to have a healthy baby. This involved a team approach at IthacaMed, with frequent medical visits with Dr. Law, his endocrine nurse practitioner William Larsen, NP, and his nurse educator Susan Mueller, RN, CDE. His first call was to Jen Hatch, a registered nurse, then with Cayuga Area Plan/Preferred, that was renamed Cayuga Health Partners in July. The organization includes primary care physicians, specialists, nurses, and Cayuga Medical Center in a collaborative network developed to improve patient access to local, quality care at an affordable cost.
Jen is one of eight Cayuga Health Partners nurses who coordinate care for patients needing extra medical attention. While caring for Mika, Jen's roles ranged from providing a nurse’s trained eye on Mika’s diabetes to accompanying her to every medical appointment. One of the benefits of the program that helped Mika most was having direct access to a nurse from her doctor’s office whenever she had questions.
“I don’t know what I would have done without her,” Mika says. “She’s like my personal nurse.”
Intensive patient care and monitoring are key parts of Cayuga Health Partners’ clinically integrated network that relies on providers sharing patient information to improve the delivery of care and keep costs in check. Prevention programs and early treatment of chronic diseases like diabetes improve a person’s quality of life and reduce long-term health-care costs. Current estimates show diabetes, heart disease, and stroke can add $100,000 or more to a person’s lifetime medical expenses.
Jen keeps a close watch on Mika and Maggie’s health by visiting them regularly in their home environment, supporting Mika to monitor blood sugar levels, and educating Mika and Butch about diabetes. Digital sensors record Mika’s insulin and glucose levels and allow Jen to make remote checks on Mika’s health, and her medical records can be rapidly reviewed and analyzed. If Jen spots a significant change in Mika’s condition, Dr. Law, Mika’s primary care physician, will get an alert, review the data, and decide if Mika needs additional care.
“I was literally in touch with Jen every day because my diabetes was difficult to manage. I could rely on Jen for help. There were times when I needed help planning what to eat. I’d take a picture of a meal, send it to Jen and ask her how many carbohydrates were in the meal. She’d reply in a call or text so I could choose healthy meals and adjust my insulin if needed.” Toward the end of the pregnancy at the recommendation of
Dr. Law and his team at IthacaMed, Jen helped switch Mika to an insulin pump that continuously monitors blood glucose and makes adjustments to the amount of insulin she receives. Mika’s blood glucose has dramatically declined with the new technology, insulin management, diet, and Jen’s close watch on her patient’s health.
Improving patient outcomes is key to Cayuga Health Partners’ effort to coordinate local health care, and a mother and father in Freeville with a healthy daughter are grateful for its success.