Curnisha Leak Recognized for Improving UM Efficiency

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — October 18, 2019 — 4 min read
Intrigued by human behavior from a young age, IDD Utilization Care Management Specialist Curnisha Leak said she was drawn to the behavioral health field by a desire to understand what drives people to do what they do.

“I was not so much intrigued by actions, but the mechanics and/or cause of the action,” said Leak. “Why do people do what they do? My sophomore year in college, I took a position for an at-risk youth residential program and became more captivated by behavioral health.”

That led to her career in behavioral health. Recently, Leak has worked to improve efficiency on Utilization Management’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) team. When it came time to create an improved workflow using a “pod” format, Leak was the first one to volunteer to help with the development of this process, said Christy Anderson, UM IDD Care Management Supervisor. 

“This was a lot of extra work as she volunteered to help with the development of the pod from the very beginning so we could ensure there was a plan in place for how it would work for the care managers,” Anderson said. “(Curnisha) was a huge asset and very instrumental with developing and writing the duties and descriptions for each pod station.”

Leak said she brainstormed with Anderson, as well as UM IDD Care Management ManagerTony Martin and UM IDD Care Management Supervisor Dellyne Samuel to define pod stations and care management duties. Leak then wrote descriptions for each of the stations and jobs. “Curnisha is an outstanding care manager who initiated the heavy lifting necessary to get the IDD UM pods established,” Martin said. “She takes a great deal of pride in her work on a day-to-day basis, and she’s always been a team player.”

Leak said team members who volunteered to implement the pod pilot also deserve recognition. They included the following members of Anderson’s team: Rori Ashwood, Ashelon Johnson, Kimberley Naves, Kimberly Terry, Margaret Sizemore and Caitlyn Gil.

“These incredible women willingly and open-mindedly walked into uncharted territory, working through systematic kinks and ensuring the functionality of the pod,” Leak said. “They took ownership of their pod staging areas, expanded job duties and ensured the overall success of the pod pilot, which has since become the Mega POD.”

Leak also worked on the flow process of Treatment Authorization Requests (TARs) before the pod even began, Anderson said, and she played a pivotal role in automating IDD UM’s communication form, which then led to the automation of the cover sheet and care note. 

“This was a huge milestone for us as this helped the care managers with being more efficient when processing TARs,” Anderson said, adding that Leak often works to streamline TAR processing so that members can get the services they need faster and more efficiently. 

“She always gives 100% no matter what she is doing or has going on in her life, and if she tells you that she is going to do something you can count on her to do what she says,” Anderson said. “She is always willing to take on extra work to help her colleagues without hesitation. She has a huge drive to learn and grow whether in her personal and/or professional life. She is always setting goals for herself and works very hard to achieve these goals.” 

Leak joined Cardinal Innovations three years ago as an IDD Care Coordinator in the Care Coordination Department. She currently serves as an IDD Utilization Care Management Specialist. Since transitioning to a “floater” in the Lean Six Sigma (LSS) UM Pod Initiative, no day is ever the same, she said.

“My primary responsibility is to migrate throughout the pod and eliminate potential barriers to output. In short, my business unit is responsible for reviewing and/or processing (TARs) for recipients receiving Innovation Waiver Services” she said. “We contribute to helping members by ensuring they receive the right service at the right time and at the right intensity.”

Before joining Cardinal Innovations, Leak’s longest tenure was with Family Preservation Services, where she served as a Community Alternative Placement Program for children and adults with Mental Retardation or Developmental Disabilities (CAP MR-DD) Case Manager for about eight years.

“I like working in behavioral health because I am able to impact change and bring awareness to populations that by history have been disenfranchised and unserved,” Leak said.

Outside of work, Leak said she’s a true sports mom. “My weekday evenings and weekends are devoted to traveling to various sports events with and for my 11 year old son,” she said. She said she also has an insatiable appetite for knowledge on all subject matters. “I love to learn and am typically a quick study,” she said.
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