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“I was having a panic attack, really,” says 65-year-old Lovelace Medicare Plan member Kathleen Brown of learning she would either need to find a new provider or health plan after ABQ Health Partners ended its contract with Lovelace Health Plan.

“I had just come on as a Senior Medicare Plan member October 1, 2012,” says Brown.

When it was announced in mid-October that ABQ Health Partners’ leaders had terminated their contract with Lovelace Health Plan, Brown feared relieving the pain she had been suffering in her back, hip and legs for three years would be put on hold for weeks, possibly months. She had just been referred to an ABQ Health Partners provider.

“I knew I would have to find a new primary care physician, book an appointment and then get a referral for a surgeon,” she says. “Surgeons are booked out three to four months.”

Brown picked up the phone and called the Lovelace Health Plan’s Customer Care Center.

“Julie was the one who answered the phone,” she recalls. “I informed her that I was having a lot of pain in my back, hip and legs and I had to find new orthopedic surgeon pretty quickly.  She told me, ‘Let me do some calling around to see what I can do.’”

Customer Care Coordinator Julie Wohrlin got to work. Brown says that within an hour she received a call back from Julie.

“I was amazed,” she says.

With an appointment scheduled to see orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Mitnik on Oct. 12, Brown’s fears of living with worsening pain were calmed.

“I saw Dr. Michael Mitnik on that Friday,” she says. “They immediately scheduled me for hip surgery within three weeks.”

Today, Brown is recovering nicely from surgery. “I’ve been walking on my tippy-toes just to walk,” she says. “Now I am flat on my feet and standing up straight.”

To the Customer Care Coordinator on the other end of the line in October, Brown expressed her sincere appreciation for Julie in an email to her. “Thanks to you and all your hard work,” Brown wrote, “I am on the road to recovery and I am about 85 to 90 percent pain free for the first time in over 3 years and walking up straight. Dr. Mitnik and his office staff were awesome. You are my HERO. I am so glad you were the one who picked up my call.”

Brown says the reason she reached out to Julie is not only because she is so thankful her pain is subsiding, but also because she understands the importance of customer feedback. The former Lovelace employee knows the challenges of customer service and the impact a note of appreciation and thanks can have on the employee on the other end of the line.

“All said and done, it was the greatest thing to happen to me,” Brown says of finding a new Lovelace Health Plan provider.

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