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Dave Draper’s remarkable commitment to patients leaves a legacy 

08/21/18 03:03:pm

dave-draper.jpgBefore retiring, Dave Draper worked tirelessly on behalf of patients for almost 17 years in utilization review. Dave recently died after battling cancer, but the impact he’s had within his old department lives on.

Below, his coworkers share their thoughts on Dave’s unrivaled work ethic, advice and his notable sayings, ability to persuade insurance providers on a patient’s behalf, and even his penchant for pulling the occasional prank.

“I hired Dave back in the mid-nineties at Charter, then of course Rogers. Dave was incredibly resilient and willing to do whatever it took to get his job done. He never called in sick in his whole career of over 30+ years—not even one day! He was so personable and hardworking.  He will be sorely missed, that is for sure.”

~ Kim Effertz, chief operating officer, Rogers–Oconomowoc

“Dave’s commitment to saving lives spanned his lifetime. He met his wife Beth working a suicide hotline and he always had the dream of running a charity to give back. He worked for many hospitals throughout his lifetime, many of which were not for profit. He knew the benefit of saving costs as he had seen several of the hospitals close their doors. He was always proud when in his documentation of authorizations he used the last drop of ink in his pen. Dave had a rare blood type and knew its value to save lives. He was an avid blood donor and encouraged others to give. Although I am afraid of needles he has convinced me to give. He could be very persuasive which made him a great care advocate.  He was a philosophy major and a great communicator. He could charm insurance reviewers and built their trust by having them get to know him. Usually by starting with the weather. When we would laugh about his 10th conversation about how it is drizzling today, he would smile and say ‘building bridges.’ He took his job very seriously, but was known to be a bit of a prankster as well. I would occasionally find a spider on my desk in the middle of a review, and needed to keep my composure until I realized it was fake. He is missed.”

~Julia Brown, utilization review lead

“Here are some of the things Dave used to say often, that I think would have an impact if we all said them every day. 

‘Today is just another day at work for you and me, but it’s one of the worst days of this patient’s life.’ Dave use to say this to insurance case managers to remind them that this is not just a policy number, or a medical record number, and he’s not just reading a story from a book, he’s sharing the devastating symptoms of an illness that an actual person is suffering from right now. So sure, things may pop up during the day that can be stressful or irritating, but just remember it’s just another day at work to you, but you’re here to help somebody through one of the worst days of their life.

‘It will be fine, we’ll work it out.’ Dave used to say this to me ALL the time. Every time there was a concern with a case, or a process, or whatever-he would calmly provide this reassurance and I could feel myself just relax and my worries change into hope that yes, everything will work out and it really will be fine. Imagine if all of our patients could hear, ‘It will be fine, we’ll (because we’re together in this, we’re here for you) work it out.’

Dave used to say, about raising kids, ‘Sometimes you have to steer the ship, other times you have to be the lighthouse.’ This makes me think of our patients and our different treatments. For example, I remember Dr. Riemann talking about behavioral activation as being a structured way to get patients active to combat their depression, vs. just asking them to do things that they might not be ready to do yet. Our clinicians are constantly jumping from ship to shore, steering and guiding patients back to land when they’re lost at sea.

Dave worked at Rogers for almost 17 years before he retired in 2017. He worked at 11101 W. Lincoln Ave. when it was charter; he was one of the last to leave the building when Charter closed and one of the first to enter the building as an employee of Rogers Memorial. He NEVER called in sick-not once-until the day he didn’t feel well and had to go in for some tests. He took off two days later when he learned he had cancer. I remember he came in to visit several months later and he insisted on taking the bus home to Whitefish Bay because ‘I need to show myself that I can do this.’ I was so worried about him, I practically begged him to let me drive him home, but nope, he was going to do what he knew he could do."

~Jeanette Osborn, manager of utilization review

Below is a speech that Jeanette gave at a recognition event celebrating Dave’s 15th year at Rogers.

About 5 years ago, which is only about 1/3 of Dave's career at Rogers, the UR department started keeping track of how many reviews we do. Since that time, Dave Draper has completed about 11,000 medical necessity reviews with our patients' insurance companies, which resulted in 37,000 covered treatment days for patients that were admitted to our hospital. And that's just 1/3 of his career here! Since the UR department reports through finance there's a part of me that REALLY wants to convert that to dollars, but what Dave has done is worth so much more than any currency. Because what Dave draper has done, sitting in an office behind the scenes, has helped save lives.

Have any of you listened to Dave do reviews? Sometimes it's like listening to an episode of Law and Order; other times it's like you're in a room with the friendliest weatherman you've ever met.  Over the years he's gotten to know so many reviewers at insurance companies, and has received many, many compliments about how great it is to work with him, and what a great guy he is.  Dave knows how to make an argument while also making a friend. Because Dave makes friends while he helps save lives.

When I asked some of our leaders for thoughts about Dave, Scott Johnson, executive director of Managed care and utilization review, says, "Dave is a great advocate, especially in the area of addiction.  Countless patients and families have benefitted from treatment as a result of his advocacy."  And Kim Effertz, Director of admissions services, said, "I have worked with Dave for about 20 years, even before Rogers.  He has NEVER missed a day at Rogers!  He is incredibly reliable and hard working.  Dave has always gotten the job done regardless of the case load.  He will trudge through anything!  He is very resilient."  I guess it's safe to say that Dave makes lasting impressions when he helps save lives.

As his manager, I can say that Dave is truly one of the best people I've ever worked with. He works so hard, every day....EVERY DAY, as in Kim wasn't kidding, if there was an annual award for best attendance Dave would have 15 trophies on his wall.  Sometimes I've had to even schedule his vacation just so he would take it! But we're ok with that, because our team loves having you around. We love listening to your Dave-isms, "no Benny no penny!" when there are no insurance benefits, "Hold on, I've got more windows open than Menards" when trying to minimize things on his desk top, and when a care manager says, "here's the authorization number;" Dave replies, "I've got my crayon ready!"  When the "Own the Door" signs went up and I reminded our team to make sure that we were diligent about this, Dave said, "Jeanette, I own more doors than Menards!" We love laughing at your jokes, hearing about your daughter, your wife, your garden.  We love knowing that the stapler you use was the same one you left behind when 11101 Lincoln Ave. closed its doors as Charter, and that it was the first thing you found when you walked back in to Rogers Memorials Hospital.  Because Dave makes it fun to help save lives.

So on behalf of all of your friends in UR, all of your Rogers co-workers, and all of the patients and families who don't realize what you've done for them, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.  For all the lives you've made such a difference to.

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