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All in a Day’s Work: A Day in the Life of a Hamaspik Medicaid Service Coordinator

In Sharing Daily Routine with the Gazette, Veteran Hamaspik MSC Speaks for All

May 18, '15

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

So what does a Hamaspik Medicaid Service Coordinator (MSC) do?

The question might better be phrased, “What does an MSC not do?”

But to answer the first question, the Gazette set out to follow an agency MSC throughout an entire average day.

For several reasons, it didn’t quite turn out that way.  But, as you’ll now read, that’s primarily because, for your average Hamaspik MSC, there is no such thing as an average day.

The MSC is not only the engine of Hamaspik, but the founding service around which the agency was launched and built beginning way back in 1988.

Two decades and a sprawling team of MSCs later, hundreds of individuals with special needs and their loving families are getting diligent and ongoing support from a cadre of caregivers who truly care.

The agency MSC set to be interviewed provided the Gazette with a list of some 20 tasks and job descriptors that form the bulk of the MSCs’ collective toil.

Here, thus, is what the dedicated Hamaspik Medicaid Service Coordinator may find himself or herself doing in the course of the day, though.  After reviewing the list, the Gazette received confirmation from the MSC that, if you’re a Hamaspik MSC, you walk in each morning knowing what you’ll be doing that day—but prepared to be confronted by any number of surprises each day.

To begin with, in the context of helping people with disabilities get the services for which they qualify, MSCs will frequently help Hamaspik Community Habilitation (Comm Hab) and/or After-school Respite staff match the right caregiver to the individual in question.

Those two OPWDD programs respectively provide direct-care workers to individuals with disabilities in such community settings as local malls, restaurants, bowling alleys and neighborhood synagogues, or exercise facilities or even homes, and in specialized stimulating afternoon programs for schoolchildren with special needs.  

But those programs are only as good as the individual worker(s) providing them—which is exactly why the MSCs put in the time to get it right.  (Speaking of Comm Hab and Afterschool Respite, helping individuals and their caregiver secure receipt of those services is another key MSC duty.)

Similar work may be demanded of the MSC when a client has to see a desired doctor who is out-of-county—necessitating a special referral, paperwork and time if the Medicaid transportation service is likewise desired.

But the crux of the MSC’s job, as the title indicates, revolves around coordinating duly-qualified services for Medicaid recipients with disabilities.  As such, your Monday morning, if you’re a Hamaspik MSC, might keep you busy with instructing recipients on obtaining Medicaid or SNAP benefits, or benefits from Social Security—or even going down to your local Social Security office with your client to advocate for him or her.

All of the above, and so much more, involves reams of paperwork.  Under OPWDD regulations meticulously observed by Hamaspik, agency MSCs diligently keep all client records—and there are quite a few—up to date, with each workspace sporting a neat row or two of clearly marked binders.

Other Medicaid assistance and services that a Hamaspik MSC might spend a day working on would be applying for durable medical equipment (DME) or environmental modifications (E-Mods). 

On the private-sector side of available services, Hamaspik MSCs have also been known to go above and beyond the call of duty in securing for their clients whatever services might be available.  In recent years, the Gazette has written about dedicated MSCs who arranged grants for a wide array of one-time or ongoing services, from equestrian therapy to special-needs touch screens for the non-verbal and even one-time medical flights out of state.

Supporting the individual in the greater context of family and community life is also part of Hamaspik’s mission, and hence the mission of the Hamaspik MSC, too.  In that light, Hamaspik’s MSCs will inform their caseload members whenever any of the agency’s not-infrequent support events are taking place.

Those support events include the popular Chanukah party, the agency’s family trips at the Sukkos and Pesach holidays and the ever-popular and inspirational annual Hamaspik Family Shabbaton, a hotel weekend getaway chock-full of inspiring speakers and motivational presentations—not to mention a networking opportunity for parents of children with special needs that gives them a boost to last an entire year.

Lending that personal touch to the Hamaspik experience is the agency’s custom, if you could call it that, of giving each MSC client a gift at his or her birthday—something the MSCs are vigilantly on top of.

According to Hamaspik founder and Hamaspik of Rockland County Executive Director Meyer Wertheimer, the greatest responsibility—and accomplishment—of the MSC is to help keep the individual out of the hospital and avoid ER visits.  “And most of all,” he adds, “to help keep him or her healthy at home.”

Other services that MSCs provide are applying for annual reimbursements from the OPWDD, securing family reimbursement from other agencies, assisting with obtaining guardianship for individuals, and helping families with schooling and education issues.

Those monthly contacts and services, in turn, come against the context of the mandated annual face-to-face ISP meetings that each MSC must have with each and every client.

At those annuals, the Hamaspik MSC says, the MSC will not just see how his or her client is doing—but also ask how he or she as a Hamaspik MSC is doing. “How can we help?” the MSC says they ask.

And that’s a question that each and every Hamaspik MSC asks—and, with his or her superlative work, answers—every day.