Have you ever struggled to read a legal decision? How about a section of accounting tax code? Sometimes it’s even tough to make sense of an owner’s manual for a common home appliance. Now, imagine you are trying to make sense of medical and insurance jargon at the same time you are recovering from an illness or being relocated from your lifelong home. Even if you have a helpful family member by your side, it can be challenging.
Unfortunately, many elderly patients are forced to contend with unfamiliar rules and requirements to understand their medical coverage. Thankfully, the patients at Augusta Nursing and Rehab Center in Fishersville, VA have an advocate in their corner who helps them make sense of this overload of information. Teresa Shuler, the business office manager at Augusta, is responsible for billing, patient education, insurance, Medicaid, and working with families that don’t understand Medicaid. In cases where a patient doesn’t have a family member available, Teresa steps in as their guide and advocate.
As she puts it, Teresa takes it upon herself to “help the folks that need to be helped.” Primarily, she guides and explains insurance to patients and families. Fortunately, Teresa’s favorite part of her job is this very interaction with the residents and their families. Teresa emphasized that it takes all of the care center employees to make things work because “there are so many moving pieces.” She knows that she can’t do the job alone.
One of the hardest parts of her job is telling the residents things that they don’t want to hear. Even though the patients and their families may be disappointed, Teresa finds that they are very thankful and appreciate her assistance even when the message is frustrating.
Teresa believes that compassion and integrity are critical in her job. She gave us an example of how she weaves compassion into her everyday responsibilities. Even when she is incredibly busy, Teresa takes time to listen to the residents tell riddles and jokes. They may be interrupting her busy day, but they appreciate that she and her coordinator will take time to listen and enjoy.
Working in post-acute and long-term care has impacted Teresa’s mindset toward life. She realizes that you need to live each day to the fullest because you never know what tomorrow will hold. She has seen patients who thought they had a minor health problem and would be discharged quickly, who actually had much bigger health problems than they originally thought. Although that’s not always the case, those situations have had a big impact on Teresa.
Thank you, Teresa, for being an advocate and guide for those individuals who need a little extra assistance!