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A day in the life of Sanna Taylor, Clinical Case Manager, Evacuation team, UK: April 2020

I’m usually woken up by my two little boys at about 6am, but they’re very good at getting dressed, playing with our cats and making themselves breakfast so I try and lie in bed for a little bit longer if I can.

Triage process

By 7am, I’ve logged onto my computer and started to triage my inbox. I work globally so lots of emails come in overnight and the first job is putting them into different categories to help with prioritisation — Evacuation, Urgent or Elective. As soon as they’re triaged, I’ll grab a quick cup of coffee, talk to my line manager and then start working through them.

Selflessness

I trained as a nurse in 2006, and then worked as an A&E sister until joining Aetna two years ago. Although I absolutely loved my job, juggling family life with night shift work was very tough and I was ready for a change. I think that the medical staff working on the front line in the face of COVID-19 are absolutely amazing. To be honest, I’d like to join them and if I could make it work with my current role and my children; I’d do some overtime shifts. After all, being on the front line is what nurses train for and I’m completely in awe of the relentless energy and selflessness that they’re showing. It makes me so proud to be a nurse.

Member first

The emails I get now might be from our operations team, from Air Ambulance companies or from providers in different countries asking for assistance or emergency evacuation for members. The coronavirus outbreak affected our work quite slowly at first, gradually restricting movement across the world until we’ve reached an almost full-blown lockdown.

The best health outcomes

So at the moment, even if there isn’t sufficient care in a country, it’s increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to move members to the nearest place of medical excellence. But we’ll do whatever we can if it’s right for the patient. We also need to make sure people are tested for COVID-19 before we attempt any evacuation whatsoever, and this can take time. It can feel really frustrating when there’s nothing we can do to speed things up for members, but it’s important we get things right and tread carefully, particularly at the moment.

A healthy break

There’s a few of us in the team, so we agree amongst ourselves when to break for lunch in order to keep the inbox covered. With 5 and 6 year old boys at home, lunch needs to be quick and healthy — scrambled eggs, lots of fruit and plenty of coffee for me, and a good run around in the garden for them. I’m trying to keep life as normal as possible, but it’s definitely challenging.

In the afternoon, I continue to assess the nature of our cases, speaking to treating doctors, members and even relatives to get an accurate picture of the patient and what they might need. I work three days a week, 7am to 7.30pm, but often leave my work phone on in case something urgent comes up.

Overcoming challenges

Of course, even now, some cases are more complicated than others and there are always lots of aspects to consider, from dealing with different time zones, different languages and different family requests to finding specialist doctors and trying to guarantee their availability. It’s not always easy to make the right decisions from all perspectives, but we always try our best.

I love helping people, as most nurses do, and one thing I really love about my work now is the opportunity to delve much more deeply into topics. Medically-speaking, my learning curve has been steep since joining Aetna. For example, as an A&E sister, I’d only see a cancer patient if they had something like neutropenic sepsis (a life-threatening complication of anti-cancer treatment) or other symptoms, such as vomiting. I wouldn’t think so much about what type of cancer they had, and what type of chemo or other treatment would be most appropriate. Now I get much more involved with the best courses of action, and if there’s anything I don’t understand I’m able to reach out to my line manager and medically research it.

Family time

In the evening, it’s something like pasta or chicken for dinner, time to get the boys to bed and maybe a little time in front of the TV. I’m a bit of a night owl but when I go to bed, I drop off pretty quickly. Staying asleep though, with so much whizzing through my mind, can be another thing altogether!

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