Several years ago, Kenyale Kearney was riding on a San Diego bus when a drunk driver crashed his car into the bus. Kearney was one of the passengers injured in that crash when she was thrown from her seat. Now, at age 30, she continues to experience physical problems, mainly with pain.
Initially, doctors treated her with prescription medications, but eventually, the medicine was as much of a problem as the pain. “I felt like my brain was always in a fog, and I wasn’t able to concentrate on anything,” Kearney said. “When I tried to explain the pain in my legs, my shoulders, and back to my doctor, he told me that taking meds was how they treated my situation. He thought my pain was just in my head.”
Things improved, however, when she joined the Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan. She learned she was eligible to participate in Health Homes, a pilot program, through the Community Research Foundation (CRF) in San Diego in 2020. “I got a care manager through this program, who called my doctor and explained my condition in a way the doctor understood,” she said. “I couldn’t believe I had someone to help me who could say the right words to a doctor for me, and he would listen and respond. I got off the meds and started aqua therapy.”
CRF has been a community partner with Blue Shield Promise for years, working with the health plan to provide care management and coordination intervention services for Medi-Cal members in need. Now, CRF is a community provider integrated into Blue Shield Promise, offering Enhanced Care Management (ECM) and Community Supports services to members like Kearney as part of CalAIM (California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal). This statewide project to transform Medi-Cal is expanding and incorporating non-medical services into the healthcare system that address social determinants of health.
Today, Kearney works closely with her Lead Care Manager, Nay Damlong, at CRF and is in a much better condition, physically and emotionally. “I still have pain from that accident, but I am managing it with aqua therapy and chiropractic treatment,” she said. “If I need something, Nay is there to help me get it,” she said. “It’s such a blessing.”
As her physical and mental well-being has improved, Kearney has tapped into additional available services, including transportation for medical appointments, updating doctors on medical issues, helping with disability paperwork, and setting up simple financial management tools to ensure that monthly bills are paid on time. Kearney, a new mother, is also getting help from Damlong in extending her current maternity leave.
“I’m so happy to have Blue Shield Promise and a care management person on my side. It has made all the difference in the world to my life,” Kearney said.