This year’s theme for National Case Management Week is keeping the person at the heart of collaborative care. Celebrated the week of October 8-14, we’re recognizing the crucial role of case managers on healthcare teams. These individuals have the important responsibility navigating the complex healthcare system to facilitate care coordination and connecting members to the resources they need.

We’re spotlighting Valerie Lees, senior care manager for Magellan Behavioral Health of Pennsylvania. Lees is responsible for reviewing and approving mental health and substance use disorder services for members across five Pennsylvania counties and assisting providers with patient discharge, planning, and care coordination to provide the member with direct assistance.

Continue reading to learn more about what Lees does as a case manager and what National Case Management Week means to her:

What exciting projects are you currently working on as a case manager?

I’m excited to be part of a few very active and ongoing projects. One of them focuses on increasing care coordination, especially for those members in any kind of 24-hour level of care. Care coordination involves meeting with our 24-hour level of care treatment providers and in these meetings, we brainstorm, discuss, and collaborate on ways to assist the member to increase their community tenure. We look at many different factors, from the members’ clinical needs to their social needs.

I’m also working with a co-worker on presenting a trauma training that will be presented to all Magellan staff. This is an area of interest of mine and it’s great to be part of educating and learning about topics like trauma informed care and best practices for members who have experienced trauma.

Lastly, myself and other members of the 24-hour level of care team at Magellan will take part in a volunteer project at a local shelter in Lehigh Valley where we will be preparing and serving lunch for the shelter’s residents. It’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with the community.

Why is Magellan Behavioral Health of Pennsylvania the best place to do these projects?

Magellan has a large skilled and diverse staff, working with so many talented people does create the best environment to work on projects. Many of our members have complex needs that go beyond the clinical realm and it’s nice to have so many talented people come together to find new ways to help improve the quality of care our members receive and ultimately the quality of their lives.

What are your thoughts on the culture here at Magellan Behavioral Health of Pennsylvania? How has that culture had an impact on your projects?

I think the culture is truly one of connection and collaboration. I have always had the sense that everybody that works here, no matter what they do in what department, has a shared goal to improve the care and quality of our members lives. The Magellan managers are always encouraging my colleagues and I to think outside the box. I feel very supported in that way. It’s really a culture where projects can thrive because of this out-of-the-box thinking where people’s voices are heard.

October 8-14 is National Case Management Week. How did you first get involved with case management and what are some of the challenges and rewards of working in this field?

I started in case management when I worked in inpatient psychiatric hospitals. I met with case managers there who were discharge planning for patients and started meeting with case managers from different insurance companies as well. I started collaborating with them quite a bit, that’s when I really got a taste of case management. Ultimately, the goal is always to collaborate and figure out different ways to help people. I think that case management goes beyond just supporting people with their mental health or substance use disorder challenges, it’s all encompassing. A case manager looks at the whole person. So not only are we looking at what we can do treatment wise for any mental health challenges or substance use disorder challenges that a member may have, but we’re also looking at their social determinants of health issues as well.

What does it mean to be a case manager? Is there anything you’d like to highlight about this field for National Case Management Week?

To me it means that I get to collaborate and help people, which is what I’ve always wanted to be able to do. Being able to collaborate with people in other departments at Magellan allows me to learn new ways to assist our members. I also really enjoy collaborating with other case managers, social workers, nurses, etc. outside of Magellan. The entire process is very rewarding and fulfilling for me.

The theme for National Case Management Week this year has to do with keeping the client in the center of what we do and that’s something that I completely agree with. I see that happening every day here at Magellan and it’s an honor to be a part of it.