Newsroom | Collaborative Care

Health care provider uses a stethoscope to listen to an infant's chest as the mother holds the child

Celebrating and Supporting Nurses 

Millions of nurses in diverse roles across the health care system are dedicated to helping people achieve their health goals and delivering compassionate and high-quality care.  

During National Nurses Week and throughout the year, Health Care Service Corporation celebrates their many contributions. 

Nearly 2,400 nurses serve nearly 23 million people who access care through HCSC’s health benefits solutions. They’re holistic health and medical management specialists, behavioral health care coordinators, clinical practice consultants and more. 

“Nurses are the hub of everything we do, serving as the single point-of-contact to facilitate a seamless member experience,” says Jo Christison, director of clinical operations for HCSC’s health advocacy teams. “They are the owners of the member experience. They truly advocate for our members by wrapping their arms around them and their families to help them navigate the complex medical world, empowering them to optimize their health and live life to their fullest.”

Through grants, scholarships and partnerships, HCSC’s health plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas support the work and education of nurses to help expand access to care, improve community health outcomes and reduce health disparities.

“About 50% of our students are first-generation college students,” says Alexa Doig, the nursing director for New Mexico State University. NMSU received a $200,000 gift from HCSC’s New Mexico health plan to fund scholarships for students who pledge to work in the state at least a year after graduating. 

The funding helped 20 nursing students who otherwise may have struggled to stay in the program, Doig says. “A college degree really creates a lot of economic mobility for them and their families.” 

Through its Caring Together program, HCSC’s Oklahoma plan is working with the Eastern Oklahoma Black Nurses Association to support nursing education, focusing on students who are also raising a family. 

“It takes some determination and commitment to take care of a family and study,” says Valinda Jones, a an EOBNA member and senior manager of clinical operations for HCSC’s plan in Oklahoma, which sponsored two EOBNA scholarships. 

“That’s why these scholarships are so important,” Jones says. “Students need the financial support because a nursing program can be quite expensive.”

In Montana, HCSC’s health plan has paired with Montana State University’s Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing to help tribal communities meet federal Head Start program requirements by addressing child health needs. 

A mobile clinic program supported by HCSC’s plan works with the college to provide nursing students from five campuses clinical training in tribal communities across the state. 

Students help health care providers perform patient assessments, including height, weight and blood pressure measurements, vision, hearing, blood lead and BMI screenings, immunizations and behavioral and developmental health evaluations. The screenings are required by Head Start, established almost 60 years ago to meet the emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs of preschool children of low-income families.

More than 600 students have helped provide medical and dental care for children of the Flathead Nation, Northern Cheyenne, Blackfeet and Crow nations. The opportunity gives them more confidence in providing care in rural and underserved areas, says MSU professor and program director Laura Larsson.

“The students love that real experience of working in the community, and it puts them to the test,” she says. Native American nursing students appreciate the opportunity to serve the people they know, Larsson says.

HCSC’s Illinois clinicians are helping expand and diversify the health care workforce by introducing high school students to the various career paths available in nursing and other health professions. 

“We want to do what we can to help inspire young people and share our journeys with them so that they can see themselves going into those professions in the future,” says Dr. Derek Robinson, divisional senior vice president and chief medical officer of enterprise health care management.

Setting new mothers up for success

In Texas, HCSC’s health plan has invested in an in-home prenatal and postpartum program for new mothers that includes physical and mental health checks, as well as parent education, to help eliminate health care barriers and improve maternal and infant outcomes. 

The United Way of Dallas established the Flourishing Family program in 2020 in increase health care access and provide resources to families, including referrals for mental health services, housing and public assistance, domestic violence shelters and primary care. 

Nurses and social workers conduct home visits for up to 10 weeks to provide the education and encouragement new mothers may need to nurture and care for their babies. 

“We want to set up mothers and their babies for the best possible scenarios in their home,” says Karen Caldwell, the program’s nurse manager. “It is so rewarding. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company.