Serving a patient population isn’t limited to health education. There is a decent variety of challenges RN clinical care managers face. Today the crisis is a patient without electricity.

Today I helped assist a patient recovering from illness and unable to pay their electricity bill due to medical expenses. I am not prepared for this. Well, I am now, but I wasn’t initially.

The challenge of managing a population from a medical perspective is that social factors prevent patients from improving their health. Until those social determinants are addressed, we can’t improve the patient’s health. Basic physiologic needs as explained in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs┬ámust be met before moving on to health needs: food, water, shelter, breathing, etc.

I did what I usually do when I end up in uncharted territory, I ask for help. My dad always says, “you’re not lost until you’re out of gas.” While this is true, I would much rather stop and ask for directions so I can move on with my life.

Both my office staff and the electric company were helpful in addressing the situation. Here’s what needs to happen:

  • We need to send a formal letter including some specific info.
    • The patient’s name
    • Home address
    • Account number (if the policy is in someone else’s name, this must be included)
    • Name of PCP
    • PCP’s License #
    • The body of a letter outlining the medical necessity for electricity (Oxygen concentrator, CPAP machine, refrigerator medication is stored in, etc.)

Hopefully, your office staff is as awesome as mine is and they help draft and fax the letter to the electric company. Inform the patient and encourage them to follow up with their electricity provider to have their power restored as soon as possible.

This story has a nice little bonus. The patient thanked me. They didn’t just thank me but said something to the effect of “you picked the right profession because it shows that you care about what you do.”

This may sound simple. It may sound expected after the service provided. But gratitude comes in short supply in the medical field. The gratitude I received today filled me with light and is so appreciated. The phone call ended with me thanking my patient, thanking them for the kind words.

-Nurse David