Care in Focus: Communication is Key in Crisis

Tammy ramirez

Alliance Health Care Coordinator Tammy Ramirez

When an Alliance member with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) ends up in in the emergency department (ED) or crisis facility, timely communication can often be key in getting them home quickly or making sure they get a timely and appropriate placement if hospitalization is necessary. Alliance Health Care Coordinator Tammy Ramirez is one of the people there to make sure that crucial communication happens quickly.

Ramirez has been working at Alliance since 2012 and serving as a crisis liaison in Wake County since 2014. She works with UNC WakeBrook’s Facility Based Crisis and WakeMed, focusing on members with IDD. Before her employment at Alliance, she had worked with the Wake County LME and has a background of working with people dually diagnosed with IDD and mental health or substance use disorders.

“If one of our folks goes in the ED, it’s a priority to get information to the staff as quickly as possible about the services and supports that are in place so they have all the contact info they need, as well as a psychological evaluation,” Ramirez said. “We want to make sure that the first thing they do when a person comes in is medically look at them and see if it’s a medical issue or if it’s truly a behavioral issue, or if the medical is playing into the behavioral issue.”

She then reaches out to all the players involved in the members’ care, including Alliance Internal staff. “I try to be mindful, if there are a lot of players involved who are already connected with the family, to not be one more person from Alliance that they have to get a phone call from,” she said. “If they are actively involved with a care navigator, a school-based care coordinator or a mental health care coordinator, I try to make sure that they remain the primary contact with the family so they (the family) are not confused or overburdened.”

Ramirez said that she and her fellow liaisons make it easier for ED or crisis facility staff to do their work with complete knowledge of a member’s history and supports, which in a crisis situation may not be easy to obtain from the member or their family.

“We really try to be an assist to our members first and foremost, but we are also an assist to our partners, such as WakeMed and UNC Wakebrook,” she said.

“Every day is different. It’s fascinating work and I know it’s definitely needed, and I just enjoy being able to help any way I can,” Ramirez said.