At Neighborhood, we are fortunate to have some of the most talented, hard-working employees of any organization around. What you may not know are the intricacies of your fellow employees’ jobs or the wide array of talents, hobbies and interests outside of their day jobs that make each employee truly unique. That’s why the Human Resources department in collaboration with the Corporate Communications team has launched this special series. We want you to get to know the amazing people you work with! To achieve this, we’ll use a Q&A format paired with photos to spotlight employees.
Our April Spotlight features Cathy Tager, RN, BSN, IQCI, Clinical Trainer for the Human Resources Learning and Development Team. Enjoy “meeting” Cathy!
How long have you worked at Neighborhood, what do you do here and what part of your job do you most enjoy?
I have worked at Neighborhood for almost 18 years. Currently, I am a clinical trainer on the Learning and Development Team in Human Resources. Prior to this role, I was a supervisor for the Pediatric Case Management Team for seven years. I started at Neighborhood as a pediatric case manager in September 2003 when the Children with Special Health Care Needs line of business began. I was in that role for three years.
The part of my job I enjoy the most is educating staff. It is very fulfilling when you can see the lightbulb turn on in someone’s brain. And it is very satisfying seeing those staff succeeding in their job roles and to know you had a part in their success!
What did you do before joining Neighborhood?
Prior to joining Neighborhood, I worked for six years at United Health Care of New England as a case manager and a supervisor. Before that, I worked at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) for six years. I was a Utilization Management nurse and a case manager; I also spearheaded the development of BCBSRI’s Medicare Complete Program. Prior to my managed care work, I was a nurse at Roger Williams Medical Center for about five years. I worked on the Geriatric, Adult Medical Surgical, and Oncology units, as well as the Critical Care, Intensive Care and Emergency Room units. I might still be working there if I didn’t have to work all three shifts in the same week. That’s really difficult to get used to and I am not a night person at all. I also worked in a free-standing emergency room in the evenings for many years while working at Blue Cross.
Of all the projects you have worked on at Neighborhood, which one stands out as being especially meaningful to you?
When I was a supervisor at Neighborhood, I was tasked to develop the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Complex Case Management Program. Given the magnitude of this request and the many facets to consider, it was going to take some time to operationalize the program. For starters, we didn’t have the correct case management system that NCQA was requiring (something that time stamped and electronically signed notes). I was one of the team members involved in the requests for proposals from case management software companies for this initiative and, therefore, was able to provide significant input in the decision making of the system required. From that point, I worked alongside two staff from the company Neighborhood hired to build the case management system. Our goal was two-fold: to create the Complex Case Management Program to meet the expectations of the standard and to also ensure that it would make sense to the end user. The outcome was a great success as was the turnaround time. From the initial request to the point where the program was operationalized took 10 months – excellent timing considering all the components involved with this!
Something else that has been meaningful is the role I played as the standard owner for Complex Case Management for six years; this was before I moved into my current position as clinical trainer. With each audit and a passing score of 100% on all components of this standard, I was thrilled! Part of this role entailed working with NCQA consultants to make sure our department was ready when the time came for an audit. I was told on several occasions by several sources, including the NCQA auditors themselves, that this was the best program that they had ever seen, that it followed the standard to the letter and should be shared as a best practice with other ACAP plans seeking NCQA accreditation for Complex Case Management. I spoke during a number of ACAP calls about this program, sharing how we created and managed it. Very fulfilling!
Tell us a little bit about the years you spent growing up – sharing what helped shaped your future.
For the most part, I grew up in North Providence, Rhode Island. I went to Catholic schools from Grade 1 through 12. Faith was very important. I grew up in a typical home – both of my parents worked and I have an older brother. I had an amazing childhood with the most supportive parents who, even today, continue to “be there” for me. I was never deprived of anything growing up but I was not spoiled either.
I knew from the time I was 7 years old that I wanted to be a nurse. Unfortunately, I had many family members who were frequently in and out of the hospital. Back then, children were allowed in the hospital with no restrictions. Watching what went on in the hospital always intrigued me – although I once saw my father have an IV started and I almost passed out. That was one of just a couple of times I questioned whether nursing was for me. Thankfully, the nurse who started the IV assured me that I was only feeling that way because I thought my Dad was being hurt. I think she was correct. I wavered at one other point thinking I wanted to be a teacher but going to school with my mother (she was a third grade teacher) and seeing 30 sets of eyes looking at me was enough to let me know teaching was not for me! In school, science classes were always my favorite. In my senior year of high school, I was fortunate to receive a science academic scholarship that was awarded to just one senior in the entire state. This paid for three years of my education at Rhode Island College where I majored in Nursing and minored in Biology!
My most memorable part of my teens and early 20s was forming relationships with people. I was always a quiet and shy child. On any given day, I was studying or immersed in a book. When I reached college, I felt comfortable enough to branch out a bit more and form friendships that I still have to this day.
My parents were and still are my mentors, influencers and inspiration for everything. They have an amazing marriage. I learned a lot about relationships through them. My mother always taught me to be independent. Get a good education. Be able to support yourself. Do not be reliant on others. That was sound advice that I have passed on to my children.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Why?
Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets. So, love the people who treat you right and forgive the ones who don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. Be grateful for what you have. Take chances. Learn something every single day and grow personally and professionally. The following quote from Dr. Seuss really sums this up nicely.
If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said it’d be easy, they just promised it would be worth it. – Dr. Seuss
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I love spending time with my family. My children are 17 and 20 and it’s hard for all of us to get together but I enjoy every second when we do. One of our favorite past times is heading to the beach – packing a picnic, bringing footballs and baseballs, and just having fun with the salt air blowing on your face making everything better. My son Nicholas was adopted from Russia when he was 13 months old and my daughter Gabriella was adopted from Guatemala when she was 5 ½ months old. My husband Skip and I traveled to their respective countries to bring them home to us. We experienced the rich culture and customs each country had to offer and, as our children grew and could understand these things, we educated them about their roots. We celebrate their diversity all the time. I used my experience with adoption to assist a co-worker, Krystal Collins, back in 2014. She and her husband were looking into adoption and she was very confused about what to do. After many discussions and sharing my experiences with her, she and her husband adopted two beautiful boys from China. She often said to me, “if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be a parent.” To this day, this warms my heart. And since we’re on the subject of parenting, I need to say more about my “partner in crime” – my husband. I love to spend time with him. It took me a while to find him but he was worth the wait. He is truly my soulmate and best friend.
I also really enjoy photography. I have been passionate about it as far back as my days working at Roger Williams Medical Center. If I have a day off, it is typical for me to pack up my photography equipment and set off for the day to take photos of everything I can. I have never done it professionally but it is always something I think about doing. I also have five cats and love spending time with them. Pets are a wonderful example of how we should all act – with unconditional love.
Share a “Fun Fact” with us. Something about you that others might find surprising or intriguing?
For a few years, I was the voice of Neighborhood! I would periodically go to the Cumulus radio station in East Providence and record radio commercials for Neighborhood about various medical topics. It then became very interesting in the car or in the mall hearing my own voice coming through the speakers. I sometimes had staff in doctors’ offices recognize my voice and ask if I was the one who did the Neighborhood commercials on the radio. When I told them I did, they would ask questions about how to sign up for Neighborhood and whether certain things were covered under the plan or not. I was really nervous the first time I did a voiceover for Neighborhood, but once I realized the positive impact this work created, my nervousness went away.
Another Fun Fact is I am the biggest Law & Order Special Victims Unit fan ever! I watch the show all the time, even reruns. I love the characters. I actually named two of my cats after the characters, Olivia and Benson.
What advice or recommendations would you give to someone interested in the type of career you are in?
I’d like to offer inspiration rather than advice. Case Management is the best job ever! There are no other jobs that I can think of where you are the conduit for a member to assist them and make a difference in their lives. We work with the disenfranchised populations in Rhode Island. If we don’t help them, they will not get the help they need. Anything you do will make a difference with them and their medical trajectory. You will leave your job every day with a sense of purpose and a fulfillment.