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Avera Medical Minute: Member health advocates connect during pandemic

member health advocate Lauren Clark
member health advocate Lauren Clark(KSFY)
Published: May. 14, 2020 at 8:22 PM CDT
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Even in one of the most beautiful settings, social distancing during the pandemic can feel a little lonely.

Barb Serres from Deadwood had a wonderful surprising phone call. It was Avera member health advocate, Bria Gunderson.

"So delightful to hear someone from the outside world. The phone rang and it was from Avera, and she was just doing a wellness check," said Serres.

They talked about COVID symptoms, pharmacy needs and anything else that was on Barb's mind...medical or not.

"I have a beautiful home, and I'm happy here, but you do feel kind of alone when it's just you and your husband. And you, you don't get out in public and that human contact is important, and knowing someone was there if I needed anything was great," said Serres.

Bria says the good feeling of caring goes both ways.

"These reach outs are just really to make sure that if there's anything that we can do to help you outside of just your health needs. And we want to get you connected," said Gunderson.

Member health advocates hear many concerns and make connections for more than health issues.

"Stressed about being able to afford things, people who are on furlough, people who are unemployed. So getting people connected with community resources is a big part of what we do, because, you know that socio-economic and that emotional support is so important when it comes to your health, your physical health," said Gunderson.

The care may continue after the call if needed.

"We have the nurse case managers here and their health plans. And so we will get them connected for kind of that longer-term contact. We also have pharmacists if there are pharmacy questions. We recognize that people are a whole person. And we want to make sure that we're taking care of that mind body and spirit," said Gunderson.

The connection between Bria and Barb is extra special today. "But we don't really get to see the face to face so this is definitely a special treat," said Gunderson.

Hearing that helpful voice on the phone convinced Barb that she was more than an Avera health plan customer, she was viewed as a person.

"I said she's a sweetheart like I thought she would be," said Serres.

Member health advocates are available anytime to those who have their health care coverage through Avera Health plans.

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