RN Advocates of West Valley: Nurse advocates provide education, understanding to patients
RN Advocates of West Valley aims to advocate for patients who are having trouble navigating the confusing healthcare system through research, education, and connections with vitally needed services. TJ Land, owner of RN Advocates of West Valley, spent more than 30 years as a nurse, giving her first-hand knowledge of the issues that cause the most concern and distress patients and their families.
“I am a healthcare advocate who helps people get through the maze of the healthcare system,” Land says, noting that the cases of clients being readmitted to the hospital after they’ve been released are on the rise because of a lack of patient education and understanding.
The need for an advocate often begins with a hospital stay for complex medical issues, according to Land. Patients and family members are in a high emotional state and don’t understand the information they are receiving from their medical team. That’s why they call her.
During the initial call, Land makes an assessment of the patient’s needs and her ability to provide the type of assistance appropriate for their situation. If she’s able to take them as a client, she discusses her services, fee schedule and contract with them. If she’s unable to take the client, she refers them to another advocate who can help.
“We tend to provide information frequently because we want to help,” says Land.
Healthcare advocacy can be broken down into many specialized branches, each serving patients’ needs for specific health conditions or situations. RN Advocates of West Valley works to fill the gaps that specialized advocacy leaves out.
“I do generalized health advocacy, which covers when a patient is in the hospital, during the hospital stay, and after they’ve been in the hospital,” Land shares.
RN Advocates of West Valley provide services such as medical finance reviews, illness reviews, diagnosis and treatment research and education, and connecting patients with services such as medical transportation or Meals on Wheels. Land says the most common service they provide are reviews and education on medications.
“There are so many people out there that don’t know what they are taking or why they are taking it,” shares Land. “If we teach our patients about medications, they will know what they are, what they’re for, and how long they’ve been taking it.”
For Land, the journey of being a healthcare advocate outside of an in-house nursing situation started when she was taking some time away from her work as a professor and helping a friend do some research on medical issues they were having. The friend mentioned hearing about patient advocates and told Land she thought she would be a good fit for the role. Land says she did her own research on healthcare advocates and opportunities and quickly realized it was exactly what she wanted to do.
“I’m passionate about this, I love this job,” says Land. “It makes it so right for the patient, which is really what nurses are all about.”
Land shares that she wants people to know that healthcare advocates can assist with any number of needs during or after a hospital stay. They cannot and will not tell a client what they should do, but they can and will provide information and education so the client can make an informed decision. All decisions and care directives remain in the hands of the family.
“We’re not there to take over anything, and we don’t provide medical care, we are here to make sure the client gets the information they need,” Land says.
Land says there’s currently a focus on providing Medicare and Medicaid education for their clients because there are changes to the program leading into the enrollment period.
“I teach them about Medicare and Medicaid, but I also teach them about Medigap policies,” says Land. “And everyone needs to understand the new information that is coming up.”