by Miranda G. McLeod
People with chronic illness or critical injuries often must plan for long-term needs. B&A Healthcare Solutions Inc. says it can help.
The company develops life care plans that estimate the medical and non-medical needs of a person with a lifelong disability.
A life care plan is a document based on published standards of practice, comprehensive assessments, data analysis and research. It provides an organized, concise plan for current and future needs with associated costs for people who have experienced catastrophic injury or have chronic health care needs.
There are 131,000 different injury diagnoses that have standards of practice, meaning each has a specific need and requirement according to the patient, said Pamela Bertwell, president of B&A Healthcare Solutions.
“The first thing we do is obtain medical records from the point of injury on. We put the records in chronological order and put it in lay terms. We research what the patient’s needs are, pinpoint the diagnosis, because there may be many diagnoses, and produce the life care plan,” said Bertwell.
Also included in the plan is a comprehensive evaluation of the person’s potential for independent functioning. It is written to the specific needs of that person. The costs included in the plan are based on today’s dollars.This information is necessary in order to establish appropriate settlements and set needed reserves, according to information from Continuing Care Concepts, a life care planning facility in California.
“The need is here in Jacksonville for this kind of information,” said Bertwell. “We try to reach a settlement amount without short-changing the patient or price-gouging the insurance company.”
Bertwell knows firsthand the benefits of life care planning.
Bertwell’s daughter was born with spina bifida and over the past 20 years has had 152 hospital visits.
“I was thrown into the medical field. I tried to take a difficult situation and turn it positive,” she said. “I wanted to give back to the community. I was touched by the compassion and commitment shown by many doctors and nurses and how their dedication changed my outlook on the challenges of raising my daughter.”
Bertwell worked as a nurse for 10 years and worked her way up the ladder to become a catastrophic nurse case manager before moving on to be a certified life care planner.
When an injury case goes to trial, depending on the severity of the injuries, Bertwell, a certified life care planner, may be called to be an expert witness for the life care plan.
“Because it’s a nonbiased educational tool for the client, it’s beneficial to not only the patient and their family, but also to the jury and lawyers. Because of the research involved, I become an expert witness for the life care plan,” said Bertwell.
“The profession started because of the need for non-biased documents. These are strictly based on evidence and methodology,” she said.
“Because costs vary from state to state, or even in the same city, you have to have many resources and the knowledge of the industry,” said Yolanda Atelevich, research specialist for B&A Healthcare Solutions. “It involves a lot of research.”
Atelevich also acts as a coordinator between insurance companies and equipment suppliers to provide clients with an accurate life care plan.