Nurse has answers for personalized care

( Keeping track of doctor’s appointments, prescription drugs, bills, insurance paperwork and other medical issues can overwhelm patients and their families.

Carolyn Bargero has the cure for those problems.

After working for 25 years as a registered nurse at a number of medical facilities, the Brighton Township woman recently launched Nurse Concierge LLC.

Bargero said she had become frustrated with the health-care industry’s increased focus on the business of medicine rather than patient-centered care.

“I can’t change the whole health-care system, but I can change it for (my clients), or at least make it better,” she said. “I felt we had lost that total patient-care concept.”

As an experienced nurse, Bargero knows how difficult it can be for patients to understand complicated medical instructions or navigate the maze of paperwork and billing procedures. She helps her Nurse Concierge clients by doing everything from monitoring their vital signs and organizing their prescription drugs, to accompanying them to doctor’s appointments and asking the proper questions of their physicians.

Diane Padilla of Brighton Township is one Bargero’s clients. Padilla, 71, has had knee-replacement surgery, two shoulder surgeries and suffers from arthritis. Bargero has been by Padilla’s side for appointments, surgeries and physical therapy sessions.

Padilla’s husband died several years ago after going through some serious medical issues himself.

“I wish I would have had her then to ask more questions,” Padilla said. “It’s hard to get straight answers from doctors; you’re intimidated by them, and they don’t always tell you everything.

“If you don’t have a medical background, you just look at it and say, ‘Well, that’s the way it is,’ ” she added. “(Carolyn) goes over everything with you at the doctor’s office.”

Not asking questions is the biggest mistake patients make, Bargero said.

“People assume the doctor is God,” she said. “He only has a short time with a patient, so you have to be very concise. You have to gather your information before your appointment, know exactly what you want to say and then give him that information to work with.”

That goes for a patient’s spouse or children, too, Bargero said.

Most people “really only hear about 10 percent of what the doctor is saying. Any of us do, especially if you hear a word like cancer thrown out. You shut down,” she said.

By transporting patients to their appointments, Bargero can help family members who may not have the time to do so.

“To be on call and be able to take a day off from work to go to the doctor is difficult for many people,” Bargero said.

Managing medications and dosages is another difficulty for many patients.

“They come home with a bag of medication and they can’t remember if they took their little blue pill, or if that’s the one they take at night,” Bargero said. “I developed medication tools like color-coded and numbered bottles.”

Problems can arise when different doctors prescribe duplicate medications.

“Doctors and nurses are working fast and hard; they make mistakes. But if I’m there, I can monitor what medications you’re getting and what the side effects are,” Bargero said.

Nurse Concierge also can keep track of medical bills and insurance payments, possibly saving a patient some money.

“A lot of the older people are paying those estimations of benefits that come. It’s not really a bill, but that money … sometimes they get it back and sometimes it just disappears because nobody’s tracking it,” Bargero said.

“When you’re older, it’s all you can do to take care of your spouse and the house, let alone that paperwork,” she added.

Bargero said to “keep it close and personal,” Nurse Concierge will only work with a limited number of clients at a time.

“Actually, this is nursing at its finest. It’s getting back where I started from,” she said.