Nurse liaison helps law enforcement, first responders manage mental health and more

A healthier community starts with a healthier workforce

On a school day in Altamonte Springs, Florida, you’ll find Andre Shoucair at his post. He’s a school resource deputy at a local elementary school — a job he loves and is proud to do. But in order for Andre to take care of the students and his community, he’s learned he must first take care of himself.

That point was never more clear than it was six years ago. 

“December 21st, 2017 is when I was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer or NETS, neuroendocrine tumors. Additionally, I have carcinoid syndrome, which is a chronic illness that 10% of the patients somehow get,” Andre said.

His diagnosis is incurable and while he’s managing, it’s a continued battle with frequent and time-consuming treatments.

“I have had 150 treatments. I have every scan, scope multiple times done, and several surgeries as well,” Andre said.

Andre’s story points to a larger issue that faced the leadership of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office — how to best support the physical and mental well-being of their workforce, even in the toughest times. 

“This job and this profession and this calling in serving others is incredibly demanding and stressful, both physically and emotionally. We can't provide the service to others unless we take care of ourselves first,” said Sheriff Dennis Lima.

The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office switched from a fully insured health plan to a self-funded plan administered by UnitedHealthcare. This move gave them more flexibility to expand and enhance their benefits, wellness programs and mental health support — and better manage their costs.

“So here with the assistance of UnitedHealthcare, we completely re-engineered our employee benefits program to make it more user-friendly and accommodating to collaterally focus on physical health and mental health at the same time,” Sheriff Lima said.

As a part of the new health plan, the sheriff’s office brought in an on-site UnitedHealthcare Health Engagement Nurse to help educate employees and provide one-on-one support when needed.

“Nurse Lisa” Guilley helps employees navigate their benefits, including for behavioral health — from in-person and virtual therapy to innovative tools like self-help apps, which are designed to help manage stress through mood tracking and digital resources.

“There are so many people out there that don't understand their health benefits in general. So, for me, being here on site, I am that person that can teach them that,” Lisa said.

The changes in the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office benefits plan have led to more employees making informed choices to get healthier. In fact, in 2021:

  • There were more than 400 employee information sessions on health resources, wellness, nutrition and more 
  • A 20% rise in decision-making scores related to wellness among employees who engaged with the health engagement nurse compared to those who didn’t
  • 116 at-risk employee participants lost a combined 1,123 pounds in a weight-loss program

The team effort, including Nurse Lisa, has helped employees like Andre navigate through uncertain times while feeling the support of an entire department.

“This truly is a family, and when a family member gets sick, you're there to comfort and to guide and help steer back towards a healthy lifestyle,” Sheriff Lima said. “He has not been alone on this journey. And, I would like to think that our team here at the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, our team with UnitedHealthcare, nurse Lisa, we're all with him for the long haul on this thing.”

Andre is now able to prioritize his health, while continuing to do the work he loves.

“I am alive because of UnitedHealthcare and the coverage that I receive,” Andre said, “and I'm just so blessed and thankful to have this opportunity.”

Learn more about how Seminole County Sheriff’s Office built a member engagement strategy to better support its workforce.

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