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I/DD Care Coordinator Melissa Horton Recognized by JIRDC

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — February 15, 2019 — 4 min read
Intellectual/Developmental Care Coordinator Melissa Horton was recognized recently by the Admissions Council at the J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center (JIRDC) for her presentation of a difficult case, calling it one of the best they'd heard.

“She was clinically thorough and very respectful with her language, despite discussing a very challenging individual," an official with JIRDC wrote in an email to Cardinal Innovations. “Later, when we went into closed session to discuss the referral, staff from JIRDC stated that she presented the case perhaps better than anyone they have had present. So, it was certainly noted by the room that she did a fantastic job."

The JIRDC Admissions Council includes psychologists, psychiatrists, medical directors and others who hear cases and ask questions. But Horton said it's just part of the job.

“The interview for admission can sometimes be quite intimidating when you are presenting in front of several medical professionals who are asking questions from every direction of the room. I think it went well because I am involved in every aspect of this person's care. I know (the person) and (their) history very well. I am confident about my job and my approach in trying to get the individuals I work with the care they need. To be honest, I'm not sure what all the fuss is about," said Horton.

“I just want my members to be treated like I would want to be treated and take that approach in advocating for them and their needs," she said. “I am very passionate about that. I think it shows when I discuss any of my members." 

Prior to joining Cardinal Innovations in July 2016, Horton was at CenterPoint and worked with the most medically fragile individuals with both I/DD and Severe Mental Illness diagnoses. She continues to serve a lot of these individuals, and so some days can be filled with intense high-stress situations. 

“I like seeing people get what they need or want," Horton said. “Some days are tough, but when I see my members or their families (past or present) and they are happy to see me or happy to share successes it makes the job worthwhile." 

An average day for Horton in I/DD Care Coordination can involve working on Individual Support Plans, monitoring individuals in the community, implementing integrative health techniques by assisting in medical and psychiatric care through communication with the individual's Medical Doctors (MDs), phone calls for general service monitoring and working to prevent bad situations from escalating.

Horton said she had originally planned on becoming a nurse. She attended UNC-Greensboro after high school, and started to question her plan to enter the nursing field after applying twice to the nursing school and getting rejected both times. 

“I started to soul search and pray for guidance when I found an ad for a summer job working with kids with special needs," she said. “I had absolutely no experience with this, but thought I would try to get the job and see if this was something I would enjoy. Well, to say this changed my life is an understatement."

Horton got the job and worked with two individuals with Autism and one with medical concerns and I/DD. She said she had no idea what she was doing, but she learned from them. 

“(They) taught me more than I would ever learn in school. I changed my degree path to psychology with a concentration in mental health and transitioned to High Point University so I could continue to work with them full time," she said. 

Horton said she noticed that sometimes issues or needs for individuals like those she worked with go unheard. She wanted to do something about it.  

“That is when I decided to move to a qualified professional position and then ultimately to Care Coordination. I vowed that I would never forget why I made this transition," she said. “I will always try to listen to what my members need or want and do anything I can to help them get it." 
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