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Celebrating the Nurses Who Support Our Clients and Members

National Nurses Week, which begins May 6 and runs through Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12, recognizes the contributions nurses and nursing make in our communities.

At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, we take this time to celebrate our many diverse nurses for the ways they use their skills and training — as well as their empathy, compassion and commitment — to bring better health and access to care to the people of our state. Here are a few of their stories.

Teri Talbot
Behavioral Health Care Management Specialist
Government Programs

Teri Talbot is better suited for nursing and case management than she was for law enforcement — her first professional career path. “People could talk me out of tickets,” says Talbot, a self-described care giver. “That position was not for me.”

After pivoting to health care, she worked many years as an occupational therapist before going back to school at age 40 — the oldest student in her class — to become a nurse. Ten years ago, she joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico and helped launch its Centennial Medicaid program.

As a behavioral health care management specialist, Talbot meets with members in Southeastern New Mexico and follows up by phone to help ensure they have the medical and behavioral resources, as well as social needs, they require to maintain their independence and health. Her case load includes babies, octogenarians and members of all ages in between.

“It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” Talbot says. “It just makes you feel good to help someone.”

Teri Talbot, nurse

Teri Talbot

As an example, she helped a member get a water heater for his home after she discovered during a home visit he had been using his stove to heat water.

“I noticed some pots stacked on the stove, and I asked why they were there,” Talbot recalls. “That’s when he told me he hadn’t had hot water. He wasn’t even going to tell me until I asked. I was just as happy as he was when he got that water heater.”

Lori Narvaez, Talbot’s manager, says Talbot always looks for ways to serve members and her team.

“She consistently is looking to improve the team in whatever way possible,” she says. “Whether it is a positive and encouraging comment or a helpful reminder, she is a perfect model of going above and beyond. She is a true representative of the nursing profession and how a kind, compassionate human can make a difference in the world.”

Samantha Baca
Director of Clinical Care Delivery and Population Health Management
Commercial and Individual and Family Market Plans

Sam Baca knew she wanted to be a nurse when she was five and began her nursing journey as a licensed practical nurse when she was 18.

“My father has worked in the operating room my entire life,” Baca says. “When I was a little girl, he used to bring me home stethoscopes and other items they were going to throw away so we could play with them. We had Take Your Daughter to Work Day, and my dad would take me into the operating room, which was really cool.”

Baca, who also has a master’s degree in nursing informatics, has worked in many capacities during her 19-year career, including in long-term acute care and at an infertility clinic. These varied experiences, she says, help her in her role in clinical care delivery and population health management at BCBSNM.

“Part of what I love about my job is being able to collaborate with different teams,” she says. “What we are able to do is advocate and help people navigate not only the health care system but also the insurance world, which is very complicated, especially if you’re not in this field.”

Recently, a member needed help getting their claims paid for imaging they’d been told did not require prior authorization.

Sam Baca, nurse

Sam Baca

“The member was, unfortunately, undergoing treatment for advanced cancer and was struggling with medical bills,” she says. “I was able to work with the chief medical officer to assist with getting their claims paid. This enabled the member to continue with their cancer treatment without worrying. This is one example of how helping members out is what I really enjoy about doing my job.”

Ruby DeGuzman
Wellbeing Health Advisor

Before becoming a registered nurse, Ruby DeGuzman wanted to be a social worker. Even now, after 30 years as an RN in various settings, advocating for members is the most rewarding part of her work as a BCBSNM wellbeing health advisor. She enjoys helping them navigate the complicated health care industry and finding them services and resources.

“The best part of my job is getting satisfaction knowing that I have helped,” she says. “Often members don’t know what is available to them. So as a case manager, I help get them what they need.”

DeGuzman, a dedicated lifelong learner, also has taken on member outreach projects, providing education about disease management and making appointments for members. Recently she volunteered to learn more about quality measures for health plans. Now she reviews data from patients’ charts and medical records to measure and help improve quality.

As for National Nurses Week, she says it’s actually nursing day every day. “Keep on educating yourself, educating members and helping close gaps in care,” she says. “Nursing is meeting members’ needs every day, 24/7.”

Ruby DeGuzman, nurse

Ruby DeGuzman

A Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association