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Life Changing Is … Lending A Voice

Kimberlys A. M., Health Care Concierge

“This job is a gift. I make an impact in members’ lives, but they make the same impact in mine.”

Kimberlys A. M., Health Care ConciergeKimberlys has been a valued member of the bilingual health care concierge team at UPMC Health Plan since March 2022. Her husband — who works on the same team — referred her, and the pair works from home in Rochester, N.Y.

Kimberlys works on the Medicare line of business. She fields calls from English, Spanish, and sometimes Mandarin speakers who need help with Medicare claims, bills, coverage, or benefits.

Additionally, Kimberlys serves as an interpreter between callers and health care concierges who work in other lines of business.

Kimberlys takes about 30 phone calls per day. She helps address callers' concerns and makes them feel at ease when it comes to their health insurance.

It’s a job that comes with many challenges and rewards. But for Kimberlys, it’s so much more than that.

“Here at member services and in our team, we see our job as a calling in a sense,” Kimberlys says. “After you start working here, you understand what life-changing means.”

Many of the callers Kimberlys interacts with are elderly and speak little to no English. They are often frustrated, confused, or even scared while trying to interpret their health insurance, she says.

“Some days, I have calls that last nearly two hours,” Kimberlys says. “The calls where I serve as the interpreter have a lot of repetition, so they’re typically longer, but sometimes even my direct calls are long.

"I’m Dominican and my husband is Puerto Rican, and we talk about the phrases we encounter in different Spanish dialects. The medical terminology is usually easy to understand, but it’s the stories and slang we have to take our time on to ensure we correctly interpret the callers' concerns and needs.”

Kimberlys has several examples of callers from a vulnerable population who start out angry or crying because they don’t know what to do. But by the end of the call, they often have their problems solved and are joking and laughing with her.

Those callers often end the call by saying things like, “I’ve never felt like a burden to anyone when I call UPMC,” or “You helped me so much, you made my day," Kimberlys says.

“I have grandparents who are immigrants,” Kimberlys says. “They are mistreated for being old or for not speaking the language. I never want our members to feel that way. I always strive to make them feel welcome and advocate for them.”

One woman left Kimberlys a lengthy survey after their call, expressing her immense gratitude for how much she helped her. She was calling on behalf of her parents who have dementia and was in a very difficult situation. After their 90-minute conversation, she was so grateful for the information Kimberlys provided.

“I remember I was going through a lot of personal struggles the day this woman called,” Kimberlys says. We were both having a bad day, but by the end of the call, we both felt so much better.

"This job is a gift. I make an impact in members’ lives, but they make the same impact in mine.”

Kimberlys often goes beyond her job requirements to ensure UPMC Health Plan members are cared for. Whether that is contacting other offices for them or looking up information that doesn’t pertain to her job, she won’t rest until each caller knows what to do and is satisfied with the customer service they receive.

On top of her health care concierge role, Kimberlys is a student studying psychology. She is about to start working on her master’s degree in counseling.

Kimberlys hopes to pursue a doctorate next, and UPMC’s tuition reimbursement program has played a huge role in helping her achieve her goals. It was one of the things that sold her on the job when her husband suggested she apply. He’s following the same model with a degree in computer engineering.

Despite having a work-from-home position, Kimberlys says that the bilingual health care concierge team is extremely close. She calls them a family, as they support one another throughout the workday. They host frequent virtual happy hours where everyone can bond.

But no one at work is more special to Kimberlys than her manager, Michelle.

In early 2023, after less than a year spent in her role, Kimberlys lost her voice for three months because of a medical condition. Although Kimberlys' voice is a key component of her work, Michelle didn’t bat an eye.

Michelle found other work for Kimberlys to do at this time, including helping with online chats rather than phone calls. She assured Kimberlys that her job was secure.

Kimberlys is still navigating her voice challenges. But Michelle has gone out of her way to find options for Kimberlys to shine even when her voice isn’t cooperating with her. UPMC AnywhereCare has a member services team that often works with patients via chat instead of the phone. It is a role they are exploring.

“My manager is the most humane and understanding person I’ve ever met,” Kimberlys says. “During this difficult time, and recently as I navigate emotional health and family challenges, she has treated me like I’m her daughter or something. Meanwhile, I was still a very new employee when I first lost my voice.”

Kimberlys says that Michelle’s one-on-one check-ins focus on performance, as most do. But they always start with, “How are you really doing?” and that is the emphasis throughout. She often touches base with Kimberlys throughout the workday and always stresses mental health.

“Michelle listens,” Kimberlys says. “That's not her job, and this is the first time I’ve ever been able to share personal struggles at work, but she gives you that trust. She has been so amazing. I can’t emphasize that enough.”

Beyond her team and manager, Kimberlys appreciates the agency and autonomy she has in her job at UPMC. She says she feels heard and is in control of her growth at the company. And there are incentives, like an award she won in 2022, that allowed her to be off every Saturday for the year.

“On member calls, we have the ability to decide how we're going to manage a problem or a situation, and there can be different ways to reach the same solution," she says. "My coach, Ada, is amazing and shares when she loves how I solved a problem or when she may have done something differently. It makes me feel appreciated, and my suggestions are taken into account.

“My manager, my team lead, my coach — they all make me feel like I have agency. It’s an amazing thing about working here. Mental health is a large part of my psychology studies, so I’m passionate about work environments in which people make you feel valued. It’s rare, but I have it here. I’ve never worked for a company that is more humane or understanding than this one.”

At UPMC, Life Changing Medicine means lending a voice to members and employees when they need it most.

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