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BCBSTX Medicaid Team Overcomes Weather Barriers to Serve Vulnerable Members

The Medicaid team at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas helped connect more than two dozen members with services during the recent winter deep freeze that left millions of residents, including most of the team, without power, water or both. 

Before temperatures plunged, the team began reaching out to families of more than 200 of BCBSTX’s most vulnerable members — mostly children — to make sure they had electricity needed to operate lifesaving ventilators and feeding pumps, as well as bottled oxygen. That outreach continued as the freeze enveloped the state even though many Texas Medicaid team members had limited or no access to power or internet services during one of the coldest weeks in the state’s history. 

Despite these challenges, the team worked with colleagues in clinical, outreach and network services and pharmacy operations to help provide 35 members with services, including hotel rooms, transportation, food, money and gift cards to help them stay safe until they returned home, says Sara Daugherty, Texas Medicaid executive director. 

“It was a great team effort,” says Kevin Worwood, director of Texas Medicaid clinical operations, whose home also was without power and water during that week. “We knew firsthand what was happening to our members, and we still had people reaching out to them.” 

Nurse Po Madsen, a Medicaid medical management specialist for BCBSTX, and a network of colleagues, friends and acquaintances helped locate and arrange services for a family with a 5-month-old requiring oxygen. The family, whose home was without the electricity much of that frigid week, burned wooden toys to keep warm and rationed bottled oxygen the infant born with premature lungs needed to survive. 

Madsen’s network of contacts donated firewood and oxygen to the family, and BCBSTX arranged for a hotel room. Meantime, power was restored to the family’s home and they declined services. 

For Madsen, who works with families of medically fragile children, the outreach she provided to the family and other Medicaid members was all part of her job to help keep members safe and stand with them in a disaster. 

“You just don’t have time to think when there are urgent needs, and we all pulled together as team,” Madsen says. “As a team, we became closer working during a crisis, and our team effectiveness in meeting our members’ needs was enhanced.” 

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