Dan Persinger is prepared for all kinds of questions when he calls on members who are eligible for Medicaid and Medicare. The former deputy sheriff turned UnitedHealthcare sales representative is a “people person” who works with our dual-eligible population. He’s accustomed to helping people with a variety of challenges.
A broken wheelchair, an old prosthetic leg
But he wasn’t prepared for what he saw when he knocked at the door of one member’s house. Pete, who had sustained injuries in the Vietnam War, used his hands to propel his body. Although he had a wheelchair, it had broken down long ago and was barely functional. Pete’s prosthetic leg was old too, and it no longer fit him.
By staying calm, speaking a member’s dialect, and tapping her knowledge of community resources, our field service coordinator helped a stroke victim find a more suitable home — at the eleventh hour. Leila Ventar, a registered nurse and one of our field service coordinators, was returning to the office from an offsite meeting when her phone rang. It was a frantic call from a woman whose cognitively impaired father-in-law had escaped his adult daycare facility, where she was picking him up. Henry, a Plan member in his 80s, had locked his arms around a signpost and refused to let go. He didn’t want to return to the home of his son and daughter-in-law, where he now lived. It was late in the day, but Leila turned her car around to see if she could calm Henry.
A stressful living arrangement
Two months prior to the incident, Henry had suffered a stroke and it was determined that he could no longer care for himself. Henry spoke only Ilocano, so he relied on his daughter-in-law to translate for him and to provide his basic care on evenings and weekends, when he wasn’t at the daycare facility. The problem was that Henry didn’t get along with her but couldn’t express his feelings to his son, who spoke only English. Henry was also plagued by significant memory loss and moodiness, making him troubled, confused and unhappy. The strain in the family was mounting.