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How Our Nurses Support Care and Experience for Members

The many nurses employed by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois help members get the care they need and improve their health. In recognition of Nurses Month, we honor our nurses for their empathy, compassion and commitment to our members.

Their experience is diverse. Many devoted decades of their lives working long shifts and countless nights, weekends and holidays caring for patients in clinical settings before transitioning to their jobs as case reviewers, care managers and care coordinators and other roles.

Here are a few of their stories.

Erika Tibbs
Medical Review Unit Nurse
Health Care Management

Every time her mother went to work for her nursing shift, Erika Tibbs wanted to go with her. As a teen, she became a hospital patient liaison and knew she’d found her life’s calling.

“It was the best job ever,” Tibbs recalls. “I got to help people. I really felt energized.”

Erkia Tibbs

Following in her mother’s footsteps,Tibbs became a nurse and worked 20 years at the same hospital —working as a floor nurse to case manager.

She remains as passionate about patient care now as a medical review nurse as she did as a hospital volunteer. In 2018, Tibbs joined BCBSIL, and, she says, “hit the jackpot.” In reviewing member cases, Tibbs believes she has more time to get to know her patients and their conditions despite never meeting them.

Her experience as a floor nurse was invaluable, but she typically rushed from patient to patient until her shift ended. “I’m doing meaningful work because I’m still making sure patients get what they need,” Tibbs says. “You touch people’s lives when no one else in the world can.”

Scott Catone
Holistic Health Specialist
Health Advocacy Solutions

As one of the newest nurse employees, Scott Catone looks forward to working with members, offering the empathy and support he’s always provided patients throughout his nearly 30-year career.

Scott Catone

He also believes his own story of survival could offer members strength and encouragement as he helps them manage their health conditions and illnesses. In March 2020, as threat of COVID-19 infections kept Americans quarantined at home, Catone waited in a Dallas-area hospital for a heart transplant, which he received weeks later.

He shares his story because he knows it gives other people hope. The hospital recorded a video testimonial of Catone and his wife, which it plays on a TV screen.

“A patient at the hospital recognized me from the video and told me that they watch it all the time,” Catone says. “Nurses have to have empathy, but this experience has given me a different perspective.”

While successful, Catone’s transplant required him to reinvent his nursing career, which started in the early 1990s after he trained as a U.S. Army combat life saver during his Operation Desert Storm deployment. Anti-rejection medications suppress his immune system and increase his infection risk, preventing Catone from performing the direct patient care he was used to providing.

He joined BCBSIL after a fellow church member and a clinical operations director for the company suggested Catone apply for a position that would allow him to make use of his nursing skills and work from home.

“If I can do something for other people, I’ll definitely try,” Catone says. “I still love helping people.”

Tina Fontenot
Utilization Management Coordinator
Health Advocacy Solutions

Tina Fontenot’s path to nursing was as straight as a winding mountain road.

Beginning as a medical assistant and phlebotomist, Fontenot fell in love with care giving and enrolled in nursing school. Those plans quickly unraveled after she became a single mother to her sons, then 4 and 2.

Tina Fontenot

To support her boys, Fontenot changed course, earned a business degree and worked 20 years through the corporate ranks to become an assistant vice president at a national bank. But Fontenot found herself back in nursing school after losing her job in 2008 during the Great Recession.

“It was bumpy in between, but I stayed focused,” says Fontenot, who graduated about 10 years ago. “I saw my way through because I love people.”

She became a hospital critical care nurse — and still works weekend shifts — even after joining BCBSIL in 2019 as a utilization management coordinator. Fontenot reviews cases and works with providers to help members get the surgeries and care they need.

“In the hospital, I’m working at the bedside, where it can be high adrenalin, trying to keep the patient alive,” she says. “At BCBSIL, I’m working for the member on the back end with the provider to get the member what’s needed. Although the member doesn’t meet me, I’m there to support them.”

David Taylor
Medical Management Specialist
Government Programs 

David Taylor started caring for people at 16 as a volunteer firefighter and forged a path looking for opportunities to do more for them.

David Taylor

“I’ve always wanted to take a bad situation and turn it into something good,” he says. “There’s so much you can do in the medical field.”

He’s served in almost every health care capacity imaginable — as an emergency medical technician, paramedic, intensive care unit nurse, home and hospice care nurse and even pharmaceutical salesman. But his experience as an organ and tissue recovery coordinator and transplant advocate have profoundly changed the lives of hundreds of people, including his own and his sister-in-law’s.

This year, shortly after joining BCBSIL full-time as a government programs medical management specialist, Taylor donated one of his kidneys to his sister-in-law and prevented her from needing dialysis.

“On my driver’s license, it indicates that if I were to die, I would want my organs recovered to save the life or lives of strangers,” he says. “Why would I not help someone I care about have a second chance at life?”

In his new role with BCBSIL, Taylor manages high-risk Medicare and Medicaid cases to ensure transplant recipients and members with conditions such as end-stage renal disease receive care coordination and continuity.

“I find ways to assist them in getting the resources they need so they can control their disease,” he says. “Some members don’t know what they can do or who they can talk to. I’m empowering someone to take control of their disease.”

Rachel Wolfe
Medical Review Unit Nurse
Health Care Management

Raised in a family of health care professionals, Rachel Wolfe believes she grew up with a caregiving mindset.

Rachel Wolfe

“I’m a helper by nature,” she says. “I always want to be a voice for the underdog.”

After years of working at a family practice clinic and home health, Wolfe joined BCBSIL in 2013. As a medical review unit nurse, she enjoys the challenge of resolving complex situations and advocating for members.

“Nursing is such a wide field,” Wolfe says. “There are so many different things nurses can do and so many directions they can go.”

She credits her clinical experience with the ability to assess cases, work within processes and find ways to do what’s best for members and providers.

“There’s a real-life person behind those case reviews,” Wolfe says. “I think that’s the most rewarding part of my job — I’m really affecting people’s lives. I’m still providing the same care, compassion and advocacy as I did in my clinical roles.”

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