Tucked away in quiet workspaces or offices, linked only by technology and their shared mission, OTC’s COVID-19 case managers have been hard at work for months.
Responsible for helping students navigate coronavirus-related issues, these employees spend their days communicating by email or phone as they sift through student reports, questions and concerns.
“We don’t just work between the hours of 8 and 5; we’re working late at night, early in the morning and on weekends, too,” case manager Annette Burtin said. “It’s an important job – every student affected by COVID-19 needs individualized attention and care .”
OTC’s new case managers take on several different roles. They assist students who need to be tested or have already tested positive for the virus, but they also work with individuals who are quarantining due to high-risk exposures. The case managers work closely with their assigned students to ensure they are recovering from their illness or balancing schoolwork while in quarantine.
“We knew the college would need a comprehensive case management system when we reopened our campuses and centers,” said Joyce Bateman, OTC’s dean of students. “This, combined with masking and other protective measures, has helped the college remain open and safe this fall.”
Joyce is one of many OTC administrators who helped develop the college’s case management plan. She says the work is highly personalized, and every case is different. The only constant is the one-on-one support students receive from their assigned case manager.
“We wanted to take a humanized approach to our case management system, but in a process supported by technology,” Joyce said. “Our research team set us up with a data management tool. That software has been instrumental in helping us manage the reports coming in while also providing a high level of care for those affected by COVID-19.”
Early in the semester, OTC hired seven part-time case managers with CARES Act funding, which is a $150 billion coronavirus relief fund established by the federal government. Three of the employees, including Annette Burtin, are college retirees. Annette, who worked at OTC for more than a decade as a financial aid representative, says there are many similarities between her former position and current job.
“I’m used to working with students in crises,” she explained. “As a financial aid rep, I spent a lot of time calling students to help them with their payment plans or financial aid applications. I also worked closely with the OTC Foundation to provide at-risk students with emergency funds.”
Annette is proud to support OTC in her new role, but she’s quick to point out she is one of many within the college helping students amid the pandemic.
“We’re all working together – the faculty, staff and administration,” Annette said. “It’s rewarding to be part of a team that’s so invested in student success.”
Whether helping students in crisis or checking in on those in quarantine, OTC’s case managers ensure each student feels the support of the OTC community. Every personalized call or detailed email helps bring students one step closer to their degree.