Highlighting Current and Future Leaders


2021 will be an important year for the practice of case management. As the healthcare industry changes, so will case managers. When there is disruption—there is innovation. Case managers who have their finger on the pulse of the industry know when to pivot and make changes to keep their organizations ahead of the curve.

In this column, we will be looking at case management leaders across the broad healthcare system. We will learn who they are and what they are doing to meet the demands of patients, families, and organizations through the practice of case management.

To kick off this column, I interviewed Colleen Morley. I have known Colleen for many years and have seen her blossom as a leader in her career, as a chapter president, and as a member of the national board. She is open, innovative, and works tirelessly to promote the practice of case management. I hope you will get to know her. Feel free to reach out to her!

Anne: Thanks for participating in this column, Colleen. What is your current role?

Colleen: I am director of case management at West Suburban Medical Center, Oak Park, Illinois. I am also the president, CMSA Chicago. I am a director of the CMSA National board of directors and Education Committee co-chair. I am secretary of ANA Illinois, the Legislative Committee chair, PAC trustee, and owner/educator of Altra Healthcare Consulting, Chicago.

Anne: What case management model does your organization follows?

Colleen: We follow the Dyad model RN CM & SW CM, paired to manage patient-internal and external continuum(s) of care.

Anne: How does your leadership approach case management team recognition?

Colleen: Good catches from the CM department are brought up at daily leader huddles to shine a light on the work we do. I have made sure that case management is included in as many committees as possible (where appropriate). We make sure Case Management Week is recognized by holding a long celebration.

My approach has been to promote case management as the coordinator of the interdisciplinary team—and that message seems to be taking hold.

Anne: What are some of the goals you set for your team? Are you able to reach them?

Colleen: The overarching goal is that “case managers are the coordinator of the interdisciplinary team.” By achieving the underlying goals of the case management process/metrics, such as assessments completed within 24 hours of admission and managing the length of stay to geometric mean length of stay, we make that a reality.

Anne: What style of mentoring do you use to grow leaders in your organization?

Colleen: Informal or situational mentoring is my strong suit. I find people come to me for advice based on an issue that they are currently facing or request mentoring to prepare for certification testing.

My style also depends on the need: I prefer cooperative or prescriptive mentoring situations as they are more “active” in the interaction between myself and the mentee and, in my opinion, more of a long-term problem-solving experience for the mentee. I relate it to “give a man a fish, you feed him for the day; teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” And my only ask is that my mentees “pay it forward.”

Anne: Name one challenge you face that impacts your team’s performance and what you are doing to overcome the challenge.

Colleen: Until recently, technology was a huge issue. We were working in three different systems just to get the job done. Recently, we have changed our EMR to a single program to bring everything together. It has been an incredible change and created major efficiencies. Now, it’s learning how to use the new system effectively to capitalize on it.

Anne: Where do you see case management going in the future?

Colleen: The opportunities for case management are limitless. Wherever the need for coordination of care, care navigation, and patient education, there we should be. For example, take social determinants of health. A huge focus now, but case managers have been engaged in assessing, identifying, and connecting patients with social needs all along. We need to be present at the table to give input, identify the needs of each population, and shape the programs to fill those needs. Who else but case management?

If you would like to reach out to Colleen, here is her contact information:

colleen morley

President 2019-21/ CMSA Chicago Director 2019-22/ CMSA National Board of Directors
Phone: 708-439-3327


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