A Conversation with Sonia Valdez, DNP, RN, ACNP, GANP, PHN, CVRN-BC


Each month, one of the past presidents of CMSA will highlight a case manager they see as a leader in the practice. Each of these professionals is making an important contribution to the practice and has inspired colleagues, patients, families and other stakeholders to recognize the important role case managers play in today’s broad healthcare system.

In this issue, immediate past president, Jose Alejandro, PhD, RN-BC, MBA, CCM, ACM, FACHE, FAAN, director of care management at UC Irvine Health, highlights Sonia Valdez, DNP, RN, ACNP, GANP, PHN, CVRN-BC, manager post-acute programs at UC Irvine Health.

Here is why Jose nominated Sonia: “Sonia is extremely knowledgeable in case management for the entire continuum, from acute care to throughout the post-acute space. She has worked as a surveyor for hospitals, SNFs, etc. Her can-do attitude and potential is limitless at work and in professional associations.”

The following questions and answers will give you insight into Sonia’s leadership.

Q. What is your current role?
A. Manager Post-Acute Care Programs.

Q. What is the model of case management your organization follows?
A. UCI follows the Care Management Model.

Q. What has been your approach to have your case management team recognized for the work they do by your leadership?
A. Recognition and acknowledging staff members is very important: A timely recognition is crucial so that the impact is meaningful. Personally thanking an employee, or recognizing an employee in front of their colleagues are great things to do and go a long way, but as we all know, food not only brings people together but it’s comforting to be able to share a “virtual and distanced” meal together. During this pandemic, creativity goes a long way, such as bringing in a “taco truck” where I’m still able to have social distancing, where staff can pick up their meal and enjoy a wonderful lunch. Something different and a change in routine is always a nice break!

Q. How do you mentor leaders in your department?
A. I like working together with the individuals to determine their goals and aspirations. Teaching what I know and being available to answer their questions. Most importantly being their cheerleader and continuing to encourage them as they walk through their path to achieve the goal they want.

Q. What are some of the goals you have set for your team?
A. In case management, it’s all about throughput. I’m very lucky to work with a lot of wonderful individuals. One of our goals was to have 60 discharges per day. Every discharge my team touches has to be a safe and effective transition of care to an outside area regardless of where that may be. This is not always an easy task due to the complexity of the patients we serve.

Q. How are you doing at reaching them?
A. I’m very proud to share that despite our current pandemic and the extremely challenging cases we have, we do our best on a daily basis to meet that goal. Teamwork is key in achieving our goal on a daily basis.

Q. Name one challenge you face that impacts your team’s performance, and how do you try to mitigate the challenge?
A. Our biggest challenges right now are the complex COVID cases with many needs that lack a funding source. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of discharge planning for patient care and has added a new element of public health in that we have to take all possible precautions to ensure that patients are not spreading the virus after they leave the hospital.

Closing: Please feel free to add anything you would like to add:

Sonia’s closing words: As leaders, case managers, discharge coordinators it is our obligation to recognize the vulnerable populations and to provide the necessary education and outreach to help prevent or at least mitigate a parallel mental health pandemic for years to come.

If you would like to reach out to Sonia, feel free to email her. Sonia Valdez, DNP, RN, ACNP, GANP, PHN, CVRN-BC, manager post-acute programs, UC Irvine Health, email: .


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