Meet Nancy Ruffner of NAVIGATE NC

Care management, medical navigation, housing conversations and planning, insurance disputes, and most especially handling the concerns of a long distance caregiver: if you encounter these needs for yourself or a loved one in North or South Carolina, then call on Nancy Ruffner to help you out. From vetting and referral of the professionals your loved one needs including legal/ financial/ home care to important hospital oversight, Nancy and her team at NAVIGATE NC can support you and your family.

AdvoConnection recently interviewed Nancy and learned more about the services she provides, and her passion for helping clients and families.

Nancy Ruffner, patient advocate
Nancy, what made you want to be a patient advocate?

Through my own experience caring for my aging parents I recognized the general healthcare debacle and a gaping societal need. Since the Boomer population began to retire it became evident that both families and the system were overwhelmed. I knew I could do something, some things to assist. I have always felt called to give voice to those who may not have a strong one, to assist marginalized populations and to call issues to the fore. Trying to mix social work and business my entire career I have found this is my beam! The need for Advocacy is so great and this so fits. Every day is one of promise and opportunity to positively impact folks who need that someone who can support, be that objective third party, or can work on their behalf.

Prior to helping my own parents as they aged I was already building upon my educational foundation (BS Social Work and a Graduate Certificate in Counselor Education) by working in a related field. Within an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) I was utilizing my intake, assessment and counseling skills daily serving companies across the United States. I really honed my research skills (if you need it we can probably find it). The tide was rising, the needs increasing. Suddenly providing research and referral by phone to clients seemed to limit me; I felt I had to extend my reach and to serve more people comprehensively, locally and personally.

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When a patient or caregiver calls you, what do you listen for?
I love this question, because we are not only listening for the problem we are also listening for what is absolutely right. We are listening to you, encompassing the needs and concerns of your family unit (however your unit may appear) and we are attuned to that which we can build upon. So often when the family member calls they are so “in the middle of it” that the success and accomplishments are not felt or recognized. Options may not be visible at the time, and folks are often overwhelmed. We build our families up, and will begin to identify that which we can remedy. Together we will formulate a specific plan with the goal of achieving the best outcome for a client and their family.

Will you share a success story – a real victory in your work?

A client emailed us requesting advocacy to resurrect her diagnosis and treatment plan and to move her out of a skilled nursing facility. She described some negligence, lack of communication and stated her therapy had been discontinued despite the fact that she was to have surgical consults. Her plaintive email captured me when it read “…and they have just moved me onto THAT hall, the hall no one comes off of, and I am only 54”.

Since she was a dialysis patient we created a specialized plan to obtain and bridge services toward her return home. As a community client we would arrange new medical providers (doctors that make house calls!), durable medical equipment, home health care, and transportation to dialysis -the works.

As we were nearing the move-out date from the facility (point of no return) I had the good fortune to connect with the owner of a local Mr. Handyman franchise. They were in search of a family to benefit from their project on the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance. They donated the work of four technicians to build a ramp onto the client’s home just days before her discharge. That group and another business owner then picked up the tab for the building materials!NAVIGATE NC logo

The client is now home with her husband and two dogs for the first time in two years. Soon when she turns 55 we will assist with her enrollment in a government program that will underwrite her healthcare On Site as a participant in this Day Program. Same program will provide transportation, social outlet, a full medical clinic, staffed Medicaid and social services offices, proper nutrition for her specific requirements, recreation and connection with every other kind of professional one can imagine.

Nancy – you clearly went above and beyond for this woman. How lucky she was to find you!

Sometimes we’ll ask an advocate if they have a favorite quotation to share. Many of us can relate to someone when we know what they identify as important. What’s your favorite quotation?

This saying came from Hillel -who must have been an advocate! Most folks recognize and will cite only the last line, but each is powerful:

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am not for others, what am I?
If not now, when?

Any last words to share with us?

Along with high work ethic and professional standards we are serious about HIPAA compliance and carrying professional liability insurance. We invite you to vet us (and we think it is remarkable that the AdvoConnection site tells you how to interview and select an Advocate)! You will hear us working within our two favorite mantras in the performance of our work: HAVE THE CONVERSATION, and ASSEMBLE YOUR TEAM. And we are here to help with that.

Nancy is ready to help you or your loved one, too.
Contact Nancy Ruffner today.

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