Vera is a primary care nurse practitioner (NP) for Commonwealth Community Care (CCC), the clinical affiliate of Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA). She’s dedicated to helping CCA members manage their health care needs and support their independence. “I am passionate about working for CCC and CCA, which have a philosophy and structure of care that promotes the rights and health of individuals with different abilities,” she says.
One CCA member Vera supports as a care partner was born with cerebral palsy and as a result, lives with quadriplegia and dysarthria. Over the past few years, Vera has helped him maintain his power wheelchair and communication-assist device provided by CCA which enables him to live by himself. Vera has worked with him as a partner and advocate throughout his journey to help overcome challenges and vulnerabilities.
One April morning, this member called Vera to tell her he had not been feeling well for several days. She made an urgent home visit that day and arranged for a visit from the CCA community paramedic team to check on him later that evening. They decided to transport him to a local hospital, where he was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) for a lung infection. The ICU team suggested that the member consider pursuing hospice care, leaving him feeling uninformed and scared. Concerned the ICU team might not have all the information needed to provide the full range of options for him, Vera came to the hospital to advocate on his behalf. This ensured that a communication barrier or physical appearance did not prevent the member from receiving optimal care.
Vera arranged for safe discharge and coordinated the member’s care team to make frequent home visits to provide hospital-like care, like managing his feeding tube and nutritional needs, monitoring improvement from the infection, and organizing his medications and appointments. Eventually, Vera was able to remove the feeding tube at his home. These home interventions prevented the need for the member to spend more time in a hospital.
Throughout recovery, Vera acknowledged the member’s commitment to his own independence and supported his decisions. When he decided that he wanted to try eating food by mouth again, Vera respected his decision and found ways to minimize his risk. She worked hard to make his care as convenient and effective as possible. Vera is committed to helping members be as informed as possible and find ways to support them in their decisions. “I am honored to work very closely with medically and socially complex individuals, build relationships with them around health promotion and quality of life, and support their independence and dignity,” she says.