When it comes to advocating for ICS members, James Abreu has been at the front lines for over a decade. Originally an ICS rehab services coordinator, James is a familiar friendly face and voice to members needing help with wheelchairs and other pieces of medical equipment. He has also long been visible at member social events, where he helps dish out meals.
Now James is forging another way of supporting members in his brand new role as an ICS care navigator at the Axis Project, a social adult day program designed for people with physical disabilities. ICS currently has about 100 members attending programs at the Axis Project, which offers a unique mix of fully accessible exercise equipment, social programs, and help with independent living skills at locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Axis offerings include a spinal mobility exercise class, an assistive technology and computer program, and an advocacy desk for people who have questions about employment, benefits, and more.
Why a Care Navigator? It’s simple. ICS believes that our members do best when they fully understand and are able to benefit from the wide range of services that are available to them.
On any given day, James may be providing members with information on authorizations and service requests, or he may be troubleshooting service issues. All the while, he is looking out for our members to make sure they are able to stay healthy and active in the community.
James reports that many Axis Project members need help understanding the policies associated with their care. A member might fall out of touch with updates and changes.
That is where James comes in. He’s glad to teach them how to navigate their care, he says.
“When I think of the care navigator position, I think of the old proverb, ‘Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.’ I believe that I’m teaching our members how to fish….
“The best part of being a care navigator is that I know it’s another step in the direction of improving communication between our members and their care management teams. It’s another step in helping them become as independent as possible. The Axis environment allows members to be themselves and to share things with me they might not feel comfortable sharing otherwise. I can relay that information to their care manager, who can then integrate the information into the member’s care plan.”
Taking James’s place as rehab services coordinator is Juan Baez, who brings the skills and knowledge he’s gained in the ICS Member Services Department to his new position. As rehab services coordinator Juan will help ICS members get the critical rehab services and equipment they need to live independently.
“It’s a pleasure working with our members every day,” says Juan. “They teach me new things about myself that allow me to be a better advocate for them and their services. I look forward to growing in this position alongside our members.”
If you’d like to learn more about the AXIS Project, visit them in Manhattan at 1325 5th Avenue in East Harlem, at their new Brooklyn location, 4224 Church Avenue in East Flatbush, or on Facebook.