MATTOON -- Jacob Moritz is grateful for the opportunity to give back by improving the lives of those living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in his hometown of Mattoon and surrounding communities.
He is one of thousands to benefit from Sarah Bush Lincoln’s Volunteer Guild Scholarship Program and is very appreciative of the support the scholarship provided while he was studying to become a respiratory therapist at Parkland College. “The financial part was always the toughest hurdle when it came to school. Receiving this scholarship made it much easier to achieve my goal,” he said.
The SBL Volunteer Guild is honored to award scholarships to area students like Moritz who are pursuing their education in healthcare-related fields. The Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Foundation raises funds to support the Volunteer Guild Scholarship Program through Cheers!, a high-energy cocktail party and dance, now in its 34th year. The public is invited to purchase tickets to the event, which will be from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at the Thelma Keller Convention Center in Effingham.
Moritz started as a respiratory therapist for Sarah Bush Lincoln in 2012, which helped prepare him for his current role as Sarah Bush Lincoln’s first Respiratory Therapy Case Manager. As the first RT Case Manager in this area, Moritz is bridging the gap between inpatient and outpatient services for people with COPD. Since accepting the position in 2016, he has been instrumental in lowering the Health Center’s readmission rate by helping people with COPD better manage their conditions.
“I am constantly advocating for our patients and doing whatever it takes to keep them healthy and out of the hospital,” Moritz said. “I provide extensive education about COPD and make sure they have the medications they need. I help them with respiratory devices, refer them to pulmonary rehab, and even recommend other respiratory therapies to their physicians.” Moritz works closely with patients’ physicians by also recommending inhaler medications, pulmonary rehabilitation classes, pulmonary function tests, sleep studies, and more.
Respiratory Therapy Department Manager Lexie Caraway also credits Moritz for the work he does for patients behind the scenes like calling their insurance companies and pharmacies to help with medication costs. “Jacob always goes above and beyond to care for his patients. It’s not a job that just anyone can do and the doctors respect him so much. In fact, they rely on him and almost always follow his recommendations.”
Moritz prides himself on finding solutions that will work for patients and making sure they can afford their medications. “It’s a good feeling knowing that people are going home with what they need and that their insurance claim has been filed correctly,” he said.
Moritz has a knack for listening to patient concerns and tackling every issue with compassion. “Each patient is different so I try to evaluate each situation first,” he said. He sees people with COPD from the time they are admitted to the hospital until they go home, and has been known to give patients his phone number so they can call him with concerns.
“Jacob is extremely patient and has had success with people previously written off as non-compliant,” Caraway said. “One woman who was reluctant to accept help is now one of Jacob’s biggest fans. She calls him weekly with concerns about her oxygen.”
“You don’t fix everything the first time you see someone and getting people to quit smoking is probably the hardest part of my job,” he acknowledges. “Caring for people with COPD is never easy, but it’s very rewarding – especially when they realize there are things they can do to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.”
Since 1979, the Volunteer Guild has awarded more than half a million dollars in scholarships to students in a nine county area who are pursuing their education in medically-related fields. Qualified areas of study include, but are not limited to, nursing, medical technology, radiology, physical therapy, pharmacy, dietetics, medical coding, and speech pathology. The school to be attended must be accredited or recognized as an approved program by the appropriate agencies. Scholarships are awarded for an academic year and are based on a student’s scholastic achievement, financial need and the availability of funds. This year’s scholarship application deadline is April 15. Selection of recipients is made in early May.
For more information about scholarships or to submit an application, contact Colleen Stoner, director of Volunteer Services at Sarah Bush Lincoln at 217-258-4180. Scholarship applications can also be completed online by visiting www.sarahbush.org.
For more information about Cheers!, or to purchase a dance or raffle ticket, contact Kim Lockart at 217-238-4765.