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UM Child Residential Supervisor Lesley Jones Recognized for Compassion and Creativity

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Utilization Management Child Residential Supervisor Lesley Jones' interest in psychology began with a desire to know “why we do what we do."

“It started in high school with a psychology class. I loved it. I loved learning the theories of why we do what we do," she said.

In college, Jones had a friend who got into some trouble and ended up getting kicked out of his house. She tried to help him. Later, he ended up stealing her aunt's car, further fueling Jones' desire to understand why people do the things they do. Now Jones is helping families with children who struggle with mental health to get the services and supports they need.

Jones was nominated for a Cardinal Leads award last spring by UM Manager Brenden Hargett and UM Director Melissa Covert. Cardinal Leads Award nominees are featured in Leadership in Action articles throughout the year for their commitment to Cardinal Innovations' core values, which include courage, integrity, accountability, compassion and demonstrating a pioneering attitude.

Jones was nominated for her high level of accountability, her compassion, and her creativity and innovation when it comes to helping members get the best possible services and supports.

“Lesley is accountable, she owns her mistakes and has excellent follow through," Hargett and Covert wrote in her nomination. “She is compassionate and cares for the members and her staff. She is creative and innovative when it comes to clinical recommendations. Lesley is dependable – if she doesn't know an answer, she will ask a question and bring the answer back."

Jones will celebrate her six-year anniversary at Cardinal Innovations Healthcare in April. She started as a UM Care Manager and then was promoted to Complex Team Supervisor in July 2016. She transitioned to her current position as UM Child Residential Supervisor in October 2017. Jones' current supervisor is Chantay Cooper, UM MH Manager, who echoed Hargett's and Coverts' positive statements.

Jones' job is supervising the care managers who authorize treatment for child residential services. This can involve children in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy and those receiving treatment for sexual harm.

“We review the authorization request for those services. My daily tasks are ensuring that we are following the guidelines of the services and authorizing appropriately," she said.

While not all services can be approved, there often are still other ways to help members, Jones said. One example might be to pair services that might not typically go together or looking for ways to combine a meeting with a family therapy session to help a member who has difficulty finding transportation.

For one child who was in and out of residential facilities for a long time, that meant looking for new ideas. “It's trying to think outside the box. We worked to see if we could do some Wraparound services so we could keep him in the community and keep him from going back to the hospital," she said.

Jones said being accountable is about being okay with making mistakes and finding ways to correct them so they don't happen again. She also said decisions are made by looking at what's in the best interest of the member.

“One of the things I think about is, 'What would I want for my child,' " said Jones, who has a 7-year-old daughter. “What can we do to make sure a child grows up to be a productive member of their community? If can I help a child reach these success stories – seeing those and knowing that it's possible – those are things that keep me doing this."

As a supervisor, Jones always remembers what one of her professors told her. “I had a professor in grad school and something she said stood out. She said, 'People don't care how much we know until they know how much we care.' That's something I do with my team. I go around to my team every day. How are you? Where are you at? How can I help you? That is my philosophy. They are not going to care what I have to say if I'm not concerned with where they are."

Jones received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Penn State University in 2005 and then went to UNC Charlotte for her Masters in Social Work. Originally, she had planned to do research, she said. But as part of her program at UNCC, Jones had an internship. Cardinal Innovations System of Care Manager Beth Pfister was her internship supervisor. That experience changed Jones' path.

“I started seeing members and doing clinical therapy. This is where I want to be," Jones said.

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