Kendra Moon Discusses the Rewards and Challenges that Come with Being a Case Manager at Shepherd Center
Kendra Moon is a case manager for Shepherd Center’s Transition Support Program.
As case manager for Shepherd Center’s Transition Support Program (TSP), Kendra Moon and the dedicated team she works with continue to assist patients and their families for up to 60 days after they leave Shepherd’s Acquired Brain Injury and Spinal Cord Injury Programs to return to their homes and communities.
Patients are referred to TSP if they meet several high-risk criteria. These can include an acute medical issue, a lack of health insurance, or if they’re in need of additional support for a safe, smooth transition home. The program involves a mix of case management, life skills, vocational services and peer support.
Moon has worked at Shepherd for 18 years, the last four in TSP. She started her career in the social work field and brings many of that profession’s qualities – empathy, resourcefulness, a knack for bonding with new people – to work she clearly loves.
We caught up with Moon to talk about her job.
What’s the primary function of the transitional support program?
Our primary focus is to prevent re-hospitalization. But to me, as someone who’s been in the field for 30-some years, it’s much more than that. From a psychosocial standpoint, we help with ongoing support and education about the recovery process. Shepherd is such a lovely and caring bubble that when our patients and families leave, it can become scary. Shepherd has become family for them - there’s such a wide and extensive support system. So, we continue to be that touchstone, their contact with Shepherd. We might not have all the answers, but we know where they can get those answers.
Do you interact with the patient’s team while the patient is at Shepherd?
In each of the therapy team meetings held on any given day around Shepherd, there’s always going to be a transition support case manager sitting in. When I’m there, I’m looking and listening to what the team is saying, the financial status of the patient, the age, where they’re from, and thinking if this person needs TSP. I might mention to their inpatient or day patient case manager that this person looks like he or she could benefit from TSP, or they’ll mention it to me. We communicate extensively with each other. They see us as part of the team and the next step. We’re kind of like brothers and sisters about the whole thing. We’re there to support them in any way, and we appreciate the referrals from them.
How do patients transition from case managers during their rehabilitation to you?
Patients and their families have developed this close relationship with their case managers, so when I meet them for the first time I like to meet them with their case manager handing them over to me. It makes them feel more comfortable.
What are some unexpected challenges of your job?
Because most of our communication when a patient leaves is by phone or email, the challenge is establishing rapport with that person which primarily is not face-to-face. When that patient and family are having difficulties, we want them to feel comfortable talking about it. If they don’t feel a relationship with you and that you genuinely care, they might not open up to you about a problem, and that can lead to re-hospitalization. So even though you’re speaking to people by phone or digitally, we still have a relationship that’s as if I’m seeing them every day. To me, that’s the key: the relationship.
What’s the best part of your work?
The patients and their families and their resilience constantly amazes me. Nothing prepares you for something like that [a catastrophic injury], and to see how people overcome and adjust and thrive in spite of that amazes me today just like it did the first day I walked in here. Every person and their family are a totally unique situation that you become a part of.
What is your job’s biggest reward?
How can it not make you feel happy and rewarded when you are helping someone and they feel comfortable reaching out to you? To me, that’s the highest honor, to have someone feel comfortable enough to say, “Can you help me?” That’s not so easy to do, especially when you have people from rural areas who are so used to doing things on their own and not asking for help. We are all truly family.
Education: studied at Toccoa Bible College and Georgia State University
Pets: Moon is a self-described “crazy cat lady with one privileged cat.” The cat, Jackson Browne, was named after the famous singer/songwriter.
What you can’t miss when visiting Moon’s office cubicle: The magnets! To get around Shepherd’s “no tape” policy for putting up things on walls and dividers, Moon uses magnets -- lots and lots of magnets -- to keep things in place. She also puts magnets up just because she likes them. Their inscriptions range from the inspirational (“What you seek is seeking you”) to the comedic (“I hate when I gain 10 pounds for a role and then realize I’m not an actress”) to the caffeinated (“I don’t know what I’d do without coffee. I’m guessing 25 to life”).
Outside-the-office talent: Singing alto. “I grew up in church choirs. I mainly sing in the car now.” Her favorites: old hymns and songs by ‘70s and ‘80s artists such as Dan Fogelberg, Art Garfunkel, The Eagles and, of course, Jackson Browne.
Interviewed and written by Drew Jubera
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 935 inpatients, 541 day program patients and more than 7,300 outpatients each year.