Working Together for Our Patients

John SniffenLa Hacienda, Treatment Team

Utilization Review Specialist Ryan McBride, Case Manager Dana Muhlberg, and Continuing Care Counselor Linda Bertel share information which will help a patient have a successful recovery after leaving La Hacienda.

Photo: Utilization Review Specialist Ryan McBride, Case Manager Dana Muhlberg, and Continuing Care Coordinator Linda Bertel share information which will help guide a patient toward a successful recovery after leaving La Hacienda.


Rounding out the monthlong observance of Recovery Month and its theme, “Together We Are Strong,” let’s look at how the La Hacienda staff collaborates to best serve the women and men who come here for treatment.

From the first phone call to admissions specialists to the end of treatment—and beyond—our professionals share information and coordinate activities in the patients’ best interest.

The clinicians who work directly with patients and plan for their continued recovery are a prime example.

“Each patient is assigned a case manager and a weekend counselor,” says Janet Blackburn, Director of Clinical Services. “This treatment team takes the time to get the know the patient and respond to their individual needs.”

“They listen to the patients, and work to build trust and to overcome obstacles.”

A Plan for the Future

Completion of treatment is a major achievement, but it is also just the beginning of the recovery process, she adds.

“It takes time to recover from addiction. After treatment, patients need to have a structure in place to help them.”

Continuing Care Coordinators, work with the patients’ case managers and weekend counselors to determine what resources patients will need.

“They take the case managers’ recommendations and develop it into a continuing care plan based on the patients’ individual needs,” says Outpatient Services Administrator Sherri Layton.

This includes considering their living arrangements and finding clinical care providers in the location they will go to after treatment. It also takes into consideration the patients’ financial situation, addressing affordability in advance.

La Hacienda counselors may also work with patients’ employers regarding their return to work after treatment.

Putting It Into Action

Once patients agree to their continuing care plans, the counselors help them implement it. Before the patients finish treatment here, the counselors call providers and schedule appointments for the patients.

It helps the patient to get settled into recovery mode, says Layton.

The continuing care coordinators call the patients a week after they leave La Hacienda to see if they have met the providers, and if those arrangements are suitable to the patients’ needs.

La Hacienda also has a strong alumni network in cities around Texas. Former patients participate in weekly meetings and help new graduates transition into recovery.

Not Just the Counselors

Clinicians are primary to patients care at La Hacienda, but the whole staff is involved.

Admissions specialists assist their arrival, and nurses and doctors tend to their daily medical needs. Nutrition and Housekeeping staff also play ongoing roles.

Utilization Review staff work to see that patients get the maximum treatment allowed by insurance carriers.

Even Maintenance can get involved.

Dr. James Boone, head of the Medical staff, tells of a patient comforted by a member of the Maintenance staff during a moment of emotional distress. The staff member asked if the patient was OK, and offered to pray with the patient, who agreed.

“That patient told me it was a life-changing moment,” says Dr. Boone.

More than a Job

There’s a definite sense that everybody on staff is a part of the healing process, he adds

“Many staff don’t consider what they do here just a job,” says Dr. Boone. “Most could be making more money working somewhere else. They stay here because of a sense of camaraderie and a feeling that they are part of a bigger purpose.”