Newsroom | Collaborative Care

Older woman holds a companion's hand

Care Coordinator Surprises Member on Her 103rd Birthday

Debbie Hayes, a Medicaid care coordinator for Health Care Service Corporation, made a wish come true for member Patricia Moore on her 103rd birthday.

Based in Marion, Illinois, Hayes drove about five hours to surprise Moore at her Feb. 28 party at Heritage Woods of Moline, the facility where Moore lives. It was the first time the two met since they began talking on the phone two years ago.

“I was just so happy to meet her,” says Moore, donning a purple birthday sash, tiara and wrist corsage. “I just talk to her on the phone all the time. She’s a very good friend.”

“It’s been a long time coming,” Hayes says.

As a care coordinator, Hayes routinely reaches out to Moore and other members to help improve their health outcomes. She encourages them to develop and follow care plans that may include reminders to take medications and make doctor appointments, as well as tips to prevent falls and increase activity. While Hayes prefers seeing members face-to-face, she schedules telephone visits with members like Moore who live too far away for in-person check-ins.

“Debbie and Pat’s relationship is special and exemplifies the true care and compassion of our care coordination team members," says Hannah Alphs Jackson, vice president and chief medical officer of government and individual markets for HCSC. "Their commitment and dedication to ensure our most vulnerable members receive the highest quality of care by working with providers and community partners to address additional support services they may need such as physical and behavioral health, social care needs and long-term services and support.”

First wary of Hayes’ outreach, Moore soon welcomed the calls, shared her stories and found friendship. As Moore’s birthday approached, she repeatedly asked Hayes to come to her party. Although she declined the invitations, Hayes planned to make the trip, and Moore’s daughter, Lynn Long, helped keep the surprise a secret.

“I couldn't wait to meet her either,” Long says. “I just love her. I think she's a beautiful lady inside and out.” 

A licensed counselor, Hayes is gentle, but persistent, as she builds rapport and gains member trust. For example, it took several years before one of her members finally revealed that a hole in the floor in front of her washing machine had caused a fall that led to a serious injury. Hayes found a contractor to make repairs and help keep the member safely at home.

“I just don't give up. Eventually, they're going to talk to you,” Hayes says. “Especially when you know that people may need you. I just want people to know that they're cared about. And that I'm here to help, and not really anything more than that.”

Long says it’s clear Hayes genuinely cares about her mother. 

“It's a very nice thing to have somebody in Mom's corner,” she says. “I think if I needed any help, I could get to Deb, and she'd put me in the right direction. She takes her job personally and she really enjoys what she's doing. And she loves the people. She loves Mom.”

Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company.