Dealing with health insurance companies can be challenging, but that’s what Mary Coleman does every day.

Coleman, 30, is the admissions counselor at HealthSouth, a private rehabilitation hospital in Colorado Springs. Because HealthSouth offers a specialized level of care, insurance companies sometimes balk at the cost. It’s Coleman’s job to convince them to agree to the additional care.

She brings a wealth of community spirit to the position, as well as a love for providing care to local residents who are recovering from strokes or other debilitating afflictions.

A graduate of Harrison High School, she attended the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Recently, she became a Socrates Scholar with the Aspen Institute, an Aspen-based think tank that fosters leadership at a local level.

She’s a member of the board of directors for the Pikes Peak Library District’s Friends of the Library and a steering committee member for the Leadership Pikes Peak program for teenagers, Leading Edge.

How did you become involved in health care as a profession?

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I started working in health care in an entry-level administrative position. I immediately loved the challenge of understanding the clinical perspective, and feel like it’s a very basic way to help people who are in a time of crisis, or a time of need. I would encourage any young professionals entering the workforce to consider health care as an option. I’ve found that there are endless opportunities for learning, and there are a lot of different career opportunities in the field. It’s very emotionally and mentally fulfilling work.

What are some of the challenges in your job?

Part of my job is to act as the liaison between commercial insurance companies, the patient and our hospital. I build relationships with nurse reviewers, and establish clinical necessity for a patient to be admitted to the acute rehabilitation level of care. I believe that HealthSouth offers the best care for patients needing rehab, and it is my job to convince insurance companies of the same. Since we are a higher level of care, the daily rate paid by insurance companies is much higher than sending patients home with care, so sometimes it’s a little bit of a fight.

How will the changing health care industry affect your position?

The health care industry has been changing as long as I have been working in the field. I have found that hospitals are continuously working to adapt to an ever changing environment, so we’re pretty used to being flexible. As government policy is shifting, HealthSouth is becoming more of a resource for our community.

Medicare is attempting to drastically reduce hospital readmission rates and repeated visits to emergency rooms. HealthSouth is able to close that gap by admitting patients for rehabilitation and getting them stronger to avoid unnecessary emergency room visits. In our city we have two populations that are currently experiencing a lot of growth, and those people include our senior population and our Medicaid population. We are working to provide more outreach to educate them on the services they can receive at HealthSouth. Essentially, the changing health care industry has kept me much busier in my position.

Why did you choose HealthSouth?

HealthSouth offers a great service to the community, is a really unique level of care, and fosters a really wonderful work environment. Senior management supports employee development, and offers a great work/family balance.

The acute rehabilitation level of care provides our community members who are experiencing a sudden onset of illness or injury the opportunity to return to their homes and prior level of function safely. I especially love that we are able to admit patients directly from home if they are failing and experiencing a decline in function, give them rehab for 10-12 days, and in most instances get them back home safely and successfully. We are the only rehab hospital in southern Colorado that offers the home admit option. We are also the only Joint Commission Certified stroke center of excellence for rehabilitation in Colorado.

Is there a particular aspect of your job that you like better than others?

I really enjoy working as a part of the marketing team at HealthSouth. We have a great group of people who are incredibly committed to providing the best care possible to the residents of our community.