Primary Care Nurse Case Manager Margaret McDonagh Gallagher, RN, has been offering exceptional care beyond what is expected of her for more than 40 years. She knows both the inpatient and outpatient settings well, having worked in the Emergency Department (ED) for many years before joining the Primary Care team. While in the ED, she developed a program to reduce visits by patients she saw often. Working with Emergency Medicine Department Assistant Chief Matthew Mostofi, DO, Social Worker Annalisa Van Kirk, LICSW and others across the hospital, she launched the Frequent Emergency Department Seekers, or FEDS program, that has helped many patients coming into the ED better manage severe health problems often related to homelessness and addiction.
Creating better care
Those who frequent the ED are at a disadvantage when it comes to their care. “If you go to the doctor and every time you go it’s a different person, they come up with different ideas, they don’t know what your history is, that kind of thing,” Margaret says. “So it (FEDS) is better care for patients.”
Physicians, social workers, nurses and all other ED staff are focused on understanding why each frequent visitor comes in and how they can assist them, even if it’s something as simple as getting that person a birth certificate. This is all thanks to Margaret’s initiative.
Being True Blue
In 2012, Margaret was honored with Tufts MC True Blue recognition, which is given to employees across Tufts Medical Center who go above and beyond. True Blue recipients are nominated and chosen by their peers.
Her current supervisor, Primary Care Clinical Nursing Director Liz Barnhart, NP nominated Margaret for the award after witnessing her work creating FEDS. “I didn’t know Margaret very well then, but working with her on that committee, I was impressed with her skill, kindness and communication skills,” she recalls.
There for patients
Margaret still is an excellent communicator, with colleagues and especially with her patients. She offers them her personal cell phone number in case they have questions or problems receiving care. “I hear from them directly, some more than once a day, some infrequently,” she says.
Because the population Margaret works with is mostly over age 85 and living alone, she always thinks ahead to ensure they can make it to their appointments and can easily access their prescriptions. Collaborating with outpatient nurses and scheduling appointments on convenient days and times for patients is important, especially because they must coordinate transportation.
If needed, she attends appointments with patients and acts as a liaison for the patient and new physician who may not be familiar with their medical history. “If I’m there, the patient doesn’t feel like they’re starting from scratch with someone new,” she says.
Margaret is passionate about providing patients with the best care possible, and she goes above and beyond to do so. Though she is humble, her patients and colleagues know just how much she’s done for the Tufts MC community.
She is an outstanding example of Always Thinking Ahead.