Caring for the whole person through a compassionate approach to health care

Yanet Perez, a nurse liaison at UnitedHealthcare, knows firsthand that when it comes to providing care, leading with compassion can make all the difference. Sometimes all it takes is a listening ear and an empathetic approach to help those struggling get back on track. 

This was certainly the case when she first met Barb1 — a woman overcome with heartache, who was struggling with high blood pressure that put her at risk for diabetes. The Boca Raton, Florida resident lost her 31-year-old son who died unexpectedly in his sleep. Two and a half years later, her other son passed away at the age of 32. Then just this past year, she said goodbye to her father following a long battle with cancer. 

Coping with such immense grief became a challenge, she said. She recalls losing interest in food, avoiding doctor’s visits for her high blood pressure and attempting to throw herself into her work to try to numb the pain. She didn’t feel like she had anyone to talk to, so she resorted to keeping her feelings inside. 

“I just shut down,” Barb said. “You don’t expect your children to go before you.”

In the midst of this difficult time, she received an unexpected call from Yanet, who works to help members take control of their health through better management of their chronic conditions. In this case, it was to encourage Barb to complete her yearly health screenings in order to stay enrolled in her pre-diabetic health plan. 

But Yanet could tell Barb needed more than a check in of her health — she needed a friend. 

“We started talking and she started telling me about recent events in her life. She was going through a very tough situation emotionally,” Yanet said. “So what I wanted to do with her was offer her my support.” 

Yanet said she takes a compassionate approach in speaking with members to help her understand a holistic view of their health — both physical and mental. Oftentimes, discussing matters of one’s health is personal, so creating a connection to help members feel comfortable is key.  

“I believe that the most important aspect of my job is the moment I support them,” Yanet said. “Sometimes I have found that they didn’t even realize that they need help.”

Barb said she just clicked with Yanet and felt comfortable telling her about her struggles to find the right help to cope with her grief. 

Yanet knew that addressing Barb’s mental health was a key factor in her overall health and well-being. She helped offer support through resources available within Barb’s UnitedHealthcare plan, plus those offered through community programs. This included things like:

  • Mental health care coordination through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which helped refer her to three therapy visits with a behavioral health specialist at no additional cost
  • Groups for coping with grief, specific to the loss of a child
  • Online tools, like Sanvello, which help provide professional mental health support 

“I would never have known any of that if not for her,” Barb said. “She did all the research. I mean, she went totally out of her way to help me. And it's something I never expected from such a big corporation. That I wasn't just a number.”

Yanet also helped Barb understand how to affordably maintain her physical health with visits to her primary care doctor, which has helped her keep her blood sugar and blood pressure under control.

Above all else, Barb said one of the most important things Yanet did was listen. 

“Just knowing that I have Yanet is a good feeling,” Barb said. “She has been the bright light in this whole thing. If I’m having a bad day, I could just call her up and she somehow knows how to make it better.” 

Yanet continues to check in with Barb to make sure she’s doing OK — and staying on top of her health. Whether she suggests new resources, coping techniques or just calls to say hi, Barb appreciates knowing someone is looking out for her. 

“I just feel like I have someone in my corner and it’s a great feeling,” Barb said.

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