Danaka White

Danaka White
Patient service manager for Cambridge team

When I was a care coordinator, I’ll never forget working with a young man who was diagnosed with a very early onset of MS. He was completely bed-bound and could only use his upper extremities.

He was not open to having PSW support at home and was relying on his mother for most of his care, but that was having an impact on their relationship. By digging a bit deeper, I learned why he didn’t want help in his home even though he so clearly needed it. He was embarrassed. He was scared that it was the first step to having to move to long-term care. He kept referring to us as “the long-term care people.”

That conversation helped me to step back and to look at him differently than my other patients. I decided to look at what other services would be better for him and learned about attendant care and self-directed funding where he could hire his own PSW. He had no idea that these services existed. I helped him through the application process for self-directed funding and then arranged for temporary attendant care. In the end, he felt empowered, and it helped him come to terms with the fact that he needed help. It gave him a level of control he didn’t have before.

It’s so important to learn what else is out there for our patients. I had to educate myself on what was out there, but once I had that knowledge, I could share that program and his story with others.

I’ve carried his story with me. Now, I’m always thinking about what other programs can help our clients. A major part of our role is to link people to appropriate community supports – even those that are outside of the health system. It helps to give our patients options and improves their health overall.

These are the things that can help move a patient in the right direction. These are the success stories that lift me.

I always encourage my team to share positive stories. We start off every team meeting with a patient story. You can see how it has a positive impact on everyone. It’s always great when I see that someone has been placed in a home of their choice that’s close to their families, so they have emotional support as well as the health support of the home.

Making a difference and driving change motivates me to come to work every day. Our health care system needs to change. Being here at WWLHIN, I can be a small piece of that change. Am I going to change an entire system? No, but because of the projects I’m involved in, I can make a difference – even if it’s to help care coordinators deal with the complexity that’s in the community.

I’ve always loved working with people, and I like knowing that I’m making a difference in someone’s life. Health care brings so much change – things are always brand new, and you never have the same day twice. I like to look at the challenges as opportunities to grow and to better our community.


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