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Being a Clinical Care Manager at Craig Hospital

March 19, 2021

Clinical care manager can mean different things in different healthcare settings, and at Craig, a clinical care manager is someone who assists with patient and family counseling, education, accessing benefits, team coordination, planning for home and advocacy. Many clinical care managers at Craig have their degree in social work and are Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LSCW).

For World Social Work Month, we’re highlighting two fantastic members of the Clinical Care Management Department who work with either outpatients or inpatients.

Craig Clinical Care Manager Libby Hiner, LCSW

Libby Hiner Headshot

Colorado native, Libby Hiner, has worked as an Outpatient Clinical Care Manager (CCM) at Craig Hospital for the past four years. Growing up in Colorado, she always knew about Craig but hadn’t considered working at Craig. “Social work is a diverse discipline, and we can work in so many settings,” she says. Her previous work, which focused on mental health and crisis evaluations, along with her experience in an acute and long-term care facility with an aging population, were what prepared her for her position at Craig. “All the best pieces of each job were pulled together for my Craig role.”

We asked Libby a few questions about her experience at Craig:

What is the most rewarding piece of your job?

The most rewarding piece of my job is seeing the different perspectives of brain injuries. Living with an injury or living with someone who has sustained a brain injury as they try to reintegrate and navigate life is challenging. It is challenging for their family, the roles their families will play, their social circles and their livelihood. Truth is, it is a lot more challenging than people expect.

For many of our patients and their families, it is while they are in outpatient that they realize how much of their daily lives has or will change. For example, the typical breadwinner can no longer work, the chef is not safe in the kitchen alone, dad can no longer run around and play tag, or the person who always handled the bills and insurance can no longer do that. Our role as social workers/case managers is to work with our patients and their families to navigate these changes, supporting and counseling both as they adapt and improve.

Another rewarding part of this job is seeing patients’ and families’ resilience, watching patients reclaim their independence, and watching as family members learn new roles and how to advocate for their loved ones. Truly, we get to help support patients and families as they grow and flourish.

What would you like others to know about your position?

Every brain injury is unique, every patient and family is unique, and as such, his or her needs are unique. What we do with each individual patient and family varies depending on where the patient and family is, looking at how they are coping, what financial challenges they are facing, what trauma they have experienced, and what medical and health knowledge they previously had. We have to meet each and every person we encounter exactly where they are and create a plan from there. We do so much more than check insurance, help set up follow-up appointments, find resources and make referrals for discharge plans. We do those things, yes, but we also help counsel and support patients and families as they grieve. We help them cope, adapt, advocate, navigate and reintegrate back into life, all while supporting and helping manage the therapy team and treatment plan. Recovery is like a puzzle, and in a way, we help the patient and family figure out how the pieces go together.

Craig Clinical Care Manager Avery S. La Fleur, MSW

Avery La Fleur Headshot

Avery made his way to Craig Hospital from Minnesota via Iowa, and he has been a CCM at Craig for 17 years. He is passionate about removing unnecessary burdens for patients and their families so that they can focus on their number one priority: rehabilitation. Ensuring that their experience is as smooth as possible can mean assisting families in figuring out financial resources, counseling the patient and their family members, and so much more.

As someone who likes to have fun and use humor as part of rehabilitation, Avery likes to think of Craig social workers as the unicorns of the industry for their creativity and ingenuity, and he even had t-shirts made to celebrate!

We asked Avery a few questions about his career at Craig Hospital:

What led you to Craig or to focus on people with spinal cord & brain injuries?

I started working in brain injury back in 1998 after graduating from college. One day I received a call from the director of Patient and Family Services at Craig Hospital letting me know there was a position open and asked if I would be interested in coming on board at Craig. I had always practiced in brain injury, and so life took me in a new direction when I came to Craig Hospital because I started working with individuals who had spinal cord injuries, too. Over my 17 years at Craig, I have moved back and forth between spinal cord and brain injury and often take on dual diagnosis patients when necessary. For me, it is not so much about the hospital and what we do, but it’s about the patients and families and helping them through a difficult time. Watching their resilience, growth and the ability to move on with life after their stay at Craig Hospital is powerful.

Is there anything you wish more people knew about your position and what you and your teammates do?

As social workers, we often have difficult challenges that many professionals would not like to have to manage. This is a difficult job that requires self-determination, self-motivation and self-reflection. As the managers of the interdisciplinary team, we have taken on the duty of making sure every part of the patient’s care is moving and doing what it should in order to reach that common goal of patient success in transition to the community. When patients discharge, we sometimes feel we are in the shadows, like unsung heroes. However, there is great personal satisfaction in knowing we played a vital role in helping prepare our patients to become successful in the community. Nevertheless, being an unsung hero is what keeps us humble and striving to continue to help our patients.