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Care Coordination: More than just a service

For my son, care coordination wasn’t just a service, it was lifesaving

By: Miranda Burger

Editor’s Note: Miranda Burger, Program Manager at Olympic Community of Health, shares her experience as a new mother in rural Clallam County, navigating complex health care for her son. Miranda shares insights and reflections on the importance of a compassionate approach to care coordination, the examples of care that made a world of difference, and the ways she experienced unnecessary barriers. Care coordination is an important aspect to solving tough health issues in the Olympic region. By elevating community voices like Miranda’s, we can better understand the challenges and strengths of care systems.

I didn’t really understand care coordination until I needed it. That’s strange to admit since one of my previous job titles was “care coordinator.” I knew what care coordination was; I understood how care coordination could be valuable. But my understanding was always academic, a bit removed. Care coordination was something for other people who appeared to be incapable of navigating “the system”; it didn’t apply to me. And then my son was born.

My son was born in December of 2020. Hours after his birth he was discovered with low blood oxygen, received emergency lifesaving care, and was airlifted to a Seattle hospital where he was diagnosed with a critical congenital heart defect. My son required open-heart surgery within the first 6 months of his life. He underwent several tests, procedures, and interventions, spending 3 of his first 6 months in the hospital, mostly in the intensive care unit. In his first months at home, he needed multiple medications, at-home medical monitoring equipment, and intensive outpatient care. My son faced numerous life-threatening complications and we came very, very close to losing him.