Community Spotlight: Betty Long of Guardian Nurses in Philadelphia

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Guardian Nurses of Philadelphia


Guardian Nurses
P.O. Box 224
Flourtown, PA 19031

What are people saying about Guardian Nurses?

"I cannot begin to express my gratitude to you and your staff. Rebecca, Heidi, and Karen have done everything in their power to make my treatment as easy and as stress free as possible. Even though I’m a nurse, I always felt like the patient and in great care. The physician recommendations were amazing. I am very grateful for Guardian Nurses and will be encouraging others to utilize this benefit. Thank you so much for letting me focus on my well-being instead of scheduling, planning, researching providers, etc. I could not have done it without all of you."

Jeri Heenan

"Without Colleen’s constant help, support and advocating for my wife during her hospitalization with COVID19, I doubt I would have made it through. She called me several times each day—-EVERY DAY!  I would tell her the medical jargon that the doctors and nurses were telling me and she would interpret so that I could understand what was going on.

 I could probably write a book on all the ways she helped us through this ordeal. The services she provided were invaluable.

I believe there are two critical components people need to get through the healthcare system: 1) good health insurance and 2) Guardian Nurses. I am grateful I had both!"

Greg Bannister

"The Mobile Care Coordinator was very supportive of my needs. She was knowledgeable, comforting, compassionate, and very sincere. She was able to get my husband, Bob, into see a ‘top doctor’ and then accompanied us to his first appointment. I was not on my “A” game, but the MCC sure was. She asked all the right questions and brought certain things to my attention. She continued to follow up with us through his treatment."

Althea Ford


Andrew Tomasetti: 0:00
Hello, and welcome to today's community spotlight where I interview local companies that I know and trust. And I introduce them to you. I'm your host Andrew Tomasetti and today I am here with Betty Long of Guardian Nurses.

Betty Long: 0:16
Hello, Andrew.

Andrew Tomasetti: 0:17
Thanks for joining us today Betty.

Betty Long: 0:19
I am thrilled to be here and happy to participate. It's always good to talk to you.

Andrew Tomasetti: 0:23
I couldn't agree more. So, aunt Betty where do you hail from?

Betty Long: 0:28
So I was raised and born in South West Philadelphia, in the MBS. Parish. And then my family moved in 1968 to Olney, which is in kind of lower northeast Philly. So I'm a Philly girl born and bred.

Andrew Tomasetti: 0:48
Yes. The Oleny, isn't there a bus station up there?

Betty Long: 0:53
Yeah, Broad and Olney. Yeah.

Andrew Tomasetti: 0:54
Yes, that's where they said the Broad Street run every year.

Betty Long: 0:58
That's right. That's right. It is when you think about Broad Street 10 miles down to the Navy Yard. It's pretty, pretty cool. And it's all mostly downhill.

Andrew Tomasetti: 1:07
It is. It's a slight decline.

Betty Long: 1:10

Andrew Tomasetti: 1:13
When you're running 10 miles, it saves those knees.

Betty Long: 1:15
Yes. Yes. And, the fact that you know, it's a straight shot, right? There are not a lot of terms except for at City Hall. Did they run through city hall? Do they go around it?

Andrew Tomasetti: 1:24
You know, I ran it maybe five years ago? It was raining. It was wet? I don't remember anything except how bad my feet hurt.

Betty Long: 1:34
Oh, God.

Andrew Tomasetti: 1:35
And the squishy.

Betty Long: 1:36
Yeah, but at least it did it good for you.

Andrew Tomasetti: 1:38
Yeah. So tell us a little bit about Guardian Nurses.

Betty Long: 1:43
So I have been a nurse for 36 years. And through various you know, as a nurse in the family, you always get asked, you know, who should I see? Where do you recommend I go. So over the course of my career, I had those questions posed. And it was in 1999, my uncle George and Aunt Betty lived in South Philly. And they were probably in their 80s. And Uncle George fell down the steps in his home and got a bleed in his brain was rushed to Jefferson Hospital, where Aunt Betty called me and I went down. And as the resident tried to explain to her that they wanted to put a breathing tube down her husband's throat, I was directly behind her. And I had been a critical care nurse for many years.

So I was listening. And I, as soon as he said, we want to put a breathing tube down your husband's throat, I thought, Oh, this is not good, right? And she was just kind of nodding and looked back at me, as if to say, What do I do? And I thought there's got to be what do families do that don't have a nurse in the family to lean on? And ask those questions like, What do I do? What does this mean?

So that was 1999. And it took me four years to put together the idea for Guardian Nurses, health care advocates. And it was the intent was pretty clear. Help people through the health care system at the time, when they're actively going through a life-threatening diagnosis or a scary hospitalization.

Get in there and help them and be with them when they're having that happen. So the unique part about what we do and what my nurses do is that we will go to the hospital and make sure that you're getting good care will go with you to the doctor's appointment, where they're going to review test results, so that we can be there listening, taking notes, when the doctor says something like, we found this, right. If it's something like cancer patients glaze over.

So all they hear is cancer. And so our job is to help patients have a better experience in the healthcare system by being with them. Actually, with them. There are a lot of programs that offer telephonic case management or telephonic care coordination. And, you know, it's it's really important to me to be with somebody when they're when you're able to, you know, support them.

So that was really the start with you know, embedding Uncle George were the start and it took me four years to get it off the ground and to open the doors and now, next year will be our 20th anniversary.

Andrew Tomasetti: 4:34

Betty Long: 4:36
Thank you. It's an auspicious 20 years. Someday you will have that same reaction. 20 years of your business.

Andrew Tomasetti: 4:44
What's one thing everybody should know before they go to the doctor?

Betty Long: 4:47
I've thought about this, Andrew? I think that the most important thing, do not be afraid to ask questions. A lot of patients freeze they are intimidated by the physician, the body language of the physician when they're starting to kind of exit the door, and patients just don't ask and then the doctor, you know, do you have any questions? No, no, I'm good. Out the door they go.

And then they're like, Well, what about this? What about that? What about this? And so we we talk with patients before they go in? And we'll say, Andrew, you know, what's your goal for today's appointment? Well, I just want to know what's going on? You know, I've got my back has been hurting me for six months. Okay. Are you? Do you want to ask the questions? Are you okay with me asking the questions? So we have a little bit of a powwow before we go in. But we always say if we're not able to go, Do not be afraid, ask the questions. They know, they want to help you there. They go into medicine to help people. But they're not great communicators, a lot of them, so.

Andrew Tomasetti: 5:45
So how do people know what questions they shouldn't be asking what questions they shouldn't be asking?

Betty Long: 5:51
You need to be responsible for your own health care? Right? So if you're having, like, for instance, when my nephew was discharged from the hospital today, I went through a list of questions for him and his girlfriend to go with over with a physician or nurse who was discharging them. Things that they wouldn't think about.

But when I pointed out to them, what questions like, what kind of activity I allowed to have? What kind of food should I eat? You know, if my heart rate goes up, what should I do? Where do I get my meds? Who do I call if I'm having an issue? Because all those things come up after you've been discharged, and you forget. So I think you have to be responsible for some of your own health care and write the questions down. And no question is dumb. So just the things that you think of write them down,

Andrew Tomasetti: 6:38
Right? And now, when someone reaches out to you to Guardian nurses and says, Hey, I have x, y, and z, this is what's going on? What sort of things should they be asking you? Before you bring them on board.

Betty Long: 6:53
A lot of patients will call because they feel like they're not being listened to? Or they don't know where to go? The things that we want to know, are, you know, do you have insurance? Right? What's your insurance? Because if, if we need to get that study moved up, we need to get pre-approved. So what kind of insurance do you have? Right? You know, because that's going to determine what health system maybe you go into. Because it would be less expensive for you depending on your insurance if you go into the network provider. So if you're with Aetna, or Blue Cross or Cigna, we want to make sure we get you to the doctors that are going to be the most advantageous for you financially.

And then what's your past medical history? Tell me about what's going on, you know, in the instance of your pet, like what kind of things happened before? Right? Did you have a bad experience in the healthcare system? Right, why? So we want to, we want to make sure that our engagement with you is going to be the best that it can be. I don't want to just take patients on because they call, I want to make sure that we can help them. Because then we're just repeating if they have a bad experience, we're repeating the bad experience.

Andrew Tomasetti: 8:08
Do you have a favorite success story?

Betty Long: 8:10
Oh, God Andrew. There's so many favorite success stories. The first one that I remember, was a police officer who was 61 he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. And the police reached out to me when I was working with patients, and you know, he, he said, Look, I want to retire, I don't need I don't want to have brain surgery. And so they said, alright, we'll have Guardian Nurses, you know, reach out to you.

So I did a talk to him. You know, I said, Can I get a HIPAA signed, right, an authorization for me to get your test results. And when I looked at his his imaging, he had the type of brain tumor that I know is to be slow growing. So I said, you know, we should get you a second opinion. And he's like, Oh, I don't know. You know, I just they told me to have surgery. They could do it next week.

And I'm like, No, timeout, no, no surgery, get a second opinion. So we went to a second opinion with a neurosurgeon who looked at his imaging and said, You know, I'm not sure we need to do surgery, I think we should wait six months and get another CAT scan. And he was like, Alright, great. I didn't want to have surgery to begin with. I'll wait six months, six months go by, and we got another scan. And we went in and I was with him. And the doctor through the images up on the lightboard. You know, it's just how old it was was Lightboard not the computer.

And he said, huh, it's gone. And the patient was like, What did he just say? And I said, Doctor, did you just say it's gone? He said, yep. And the patient was like, oh my god, this is great. What happened and he said I think it was inflammation that was causing your symptoms. He had some facial drooping which you know is oftentimes a sign of a brain tumor. Six months later, he was fine. I get goosebumps now even talking about because had he had the surgery, it would have been needless.

Andrew Tomasetti: 10:10

Betty Long: 10:11
But getting a second opinion by a physician who, you know, different systems just who had more experience perhaps made a big difference we have. Andrew, we have so many great patient stories, you know, it's an honor to be leading a group of nurses that do this work, because I get to hear that great stories.

Andrew Tomasetti: 10:34
Now, Aunt Betty, do you have a binder somewhere, that it has all of these success stories? Because that's pretty incredible to go from, hey, we need to do surgery to oh, wait, you're fine?

Betty Long: 10:50
It's gone, yeah, I do. And now our nurses will send stories to the team to share. And I keep them electronically to because at some point, I'd like to commemorate them somehow write a book or, you know, just encourage patients that, you know, it can happen.

And that's what makes me get up in the morning, every day to hear these stories and, and to see the nurses who have come, you know, in many ways, their careers are 10, you know, 10 years long, 20, 30 years long. And they, they find joy again, to help patients. And that's so cool to me to see them kind of perk up and say things like, this is why I went into nursing.

Andrew Tomasetti: 11:37

Betty Long: 11:37
So I get to celebrate, their passion again, and their joy, and I get to celebrate the patient's success as well.

Andrew Tomasetti: 11:45
Right. And I would imagine that your nurses feel much more fulfilled, being a Personal Patient Advocate, instead of just having to do one patient and it'd be more like a revolving door.

Betty Long: 11:58
Yes, they say that all the time that they feel like they're making a difference. Yeah.

Andrew Tomasetti: 12:04
That's fantastic. So you can have a win for your customer and have a win for your nurses? That's.

Betty Long: 12:10
Yes. Yes. It's kind of a Yeah, it's a joy really to do this work.

Andrew Tomasetti: 12:16
So what are some bad recommendations you hear?

Betty Long: 12:20
One that I hear a lot is, you know, don't worry about it. Like, you know, it's like they discount they that physicians or even providers, nurse practitioners, they discount how a patient feels, you know, like, there's nothing to worry about. And it's like, well, but if they're worried, right, like, I want them to meet the patient where they're at. So that's, I hate to hear, don't worry about it, or, you know, it's, it's fine. It's not fine. If you don't feel it's fine. It's not fine. Right?

So there's got to be a negotiation between the width between the provider and the patient. I just heard a story the other day where a woman her mom had ovarian cancer and she wanted to she was in her mid-50s.
She was feeling a little bit weird, and everybody kept discounting or you're fine, you're fine. And she's like, if you could just test me, Turns out, she had a small ovarian tumor that they took out. And so the ovarian cancer had not spread by the time they, but it was her persistence. I'm not happy.

So I think that's the bad advice is to discount. You know, if somebody says don't worry about it, or you know, whatever, have a game plan. Sometimes when breast lumps are diagnosed, Doctor be like, oh, you know, it's nothing. If you feel like you need to have another opinion. Get another opinion.

Andrew Tomasetti: 13:37
And I have one more question for you. What's your favorite coffee?

Betty Long: 13:41

Andrew Tomasetti: 13:42

Betty Long: 13:43
Peach coffee?

Andrew Tomasetti: 13:44
That comes in as a red?

Betty Long: 13:46
No, it's brown. And even further down is the Sulawesi [inaudible].

Andrew Tomasetti: 13:54

Betty Long: 13:55

Andrew Tomasetti: 13:55
And if people want to know more about you or Guardian Nurses, where can they find you?

Betty Long: 14:00
I would welcome them to look at our website, We're also on social media as well. Facebook and Instagram and also LinkedIn, anybody's on LinkedIn. So thank you, Andrew, for the time.

Andrew Tomasetti: 14:15
Absolutely. Well, thank you for coming in Betty. This has been another community spotlight where I interview other local businesses that I know and trust and introduce them to you. Have a great day.

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