Mighty Blog

Celebrating Patient Access Week

Patient Access Week, April 2 – 8, is a time to recognize the amazing work done by our primary and specialty access center, prior authorization, registration, and financial counseling teams at Children’s Minnesota. The theme for this year’s Patient Access Week is “Imagine. Impact. Influence.”  

As kid experts, our patient access teams touch the lives of our patients and families every day – they are the spark that kicks off the patient experience. To celebrate our patient access team, we sat down with Andrea Soderholm, sr. prior authorization specialist; Dara Yang, specialty access center representative; Tania Salazar Duron, primary care access center representative; and Christine (Chris) Wecker, patient access specialist to learn more about the work they do and what this year’s theme means to them. 

Andrea Soderholm
Dara Yang
Tania Salazar Duron
Christine (Chris) Wecker

Get to know Andrea, Dara, Tania, Cynthia and Chris! 

Andrea: I joined Children’s Minnesota in December 2022 as a senior prior authorization specialist; working directly with the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department, specifically supporting the Lakeville and Woodbury Clinics. My role is to obtain insurance benefits and ensuring authorizations are in place for Rehab services performed at Children’s Minnesota.  

Dara: I have been a contact center representative at Children’s Minnesota for a year and a half. I help answer calls for our specialty clinics and complete administrative tasks.  

Tania: I work in the Access Center for the primary care clinics, helping patients schedule appointments and connect with primary care providers. I have been working here for 1 year and 9 months. I love working at Children’s Minnesota because it gives me flexibility to work remotely and has helped me a lot with my family and I schedule. This is a job that I have always wished to work for.  

Chris: I am a patient access specialist and a unit operations coordinator in the St. Paul emergency department. I have worked at Children’s Minnesota for six years. 

Andrea: I love that each day of work brings new learning and new opportunities to support our patients and their families as they navigate some of their most challenging times. It gives me a sense of pride knowing that I am apart of helping to ensure children have access to the services they need to function on a daily basis and get back to being kids!  

Dara: What I enjoy most about my job is being able to help serve families with requests. This includes scheduling and sending messages to help communicate with our care team and providers.  

Tania: My favorite part about my job is that I’m able to help parents to connect with primary care, and to be able to guide where they need to go or when they need to come in. I also love when I get Spanish speaking callers because I am able to assist them in their native language.  

Chris: I love being able to interact with our patients and their families and be able to make a difference in their experience. I also have so many amazing co-workers and departments I get to engage with on a daily basis. 

Andrea: This year’s theme of “Imagine. Impact. Influence” really echoes the work that we are doing in patient access and across the organization. “Imagine” to me means constantly finding new, better and more efficient ways to meet the needs of our patients and families. It means thinking outside the box to improve the care, improve the experience and provide support for our patients and their families who are already facing challenges and difficult times. “Impact” means evaluating where we currently are and making changes to better support our patients and families in a positive way whether it be within the walls at Children’s Minnesota or within the community. Health care is always changing; regulations and legislation are always changing and the needs of our patients and families are always changing which means we need to constantly change to make progress. “Influence” means two things; setting a standard for other organizations to follow and also represents individuals like Jacqui Nowak White and Nicole Hiljus in leadership roles who are passionate about change and get their teams and colleagues excited about change; who also ask for input from others and work with their teams on what their thoughts are on process improvement.   

Dara: This year’s theme means we can be creative, impactful and inspiring others by how we care for our patients.  

Tania: The reason why the theme this is year is important to me is because I’m able to make an impact day–to–day in the access center by being available for my co-workers, assisting callers in their native language as their first point of contact and influence them by knowing they can call and may speak to someone in their native language.  

Chris: To me, “imagine” would be to visualize what the best outcome would be for a patient’s visit. What are issues or barriers to that best outcome? How could I Influence a path and impact that outcome? 

Andrea: Patient access represents different front-end roles that are not always seen but still have a big impact in the lives of our patients and families. The patient access department is one of the first points of contact with families that are coming to Children’s Minnesota which starts their journey with the organization. The different areas within patient access work closely together to ensure patients can receive the services they need and to support payment of the services.   

Dara: What I would tell others about patient access is that we are the voice of our patients. We help get them started with their care journey.  

Tania: What I would like people to know about patient access is that it’s a very important role because we are the first contact for our families. We do our very best to make sure we give great customer service before they come into the clinics. 

Chris: Patient access is support for our patients and families by ensuring their personal information is secure and accurate, listening and helping families with their many questions and concerns, and having clear communication with other departments so their care is not delayed. Our role affects multiple areas such as clinical and financial – so accuracy is essential. We work to help ensure families can feel safe in our care and just focus on their child. 

Mai Songsawatwong