40 Years of Supporting Independence, Health, and a Meaningful Community Life

The Coordinating Center, a trusted leader in care coordination services in Maryland for people living with disabilities and complex medical and social needs since 1983, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

“We love our history and are excited about our future,” said Dr. Teresa Titus-Howard, President and CEO of The Coordinating Center. “As we expand and establish a bold vision for serving more people, we will carry forward and build upon the remarkable legacy of those who paved the way for our organization.”

“We have big plans for our 40th Anniversary in 2023, beginning with our new anniversary logo, featuring our beloved tagline, We Are Stronger Together! We chose this tagline because we truly believe at The Coordinating Center that building a culture that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive drives innovation, productivity, results, customer satisfaction and ultimately, a sense of belonging for our coworkers and the people we are privileged to serve each day,” said Dr. Titus-Howard.

We recently sat down with Ms. Nancy Bond, Senior Vice President, Medical Legal Services who has been with The Coordinating Center for over 39 years, to learn more about how The Coordinating Center came to be.

How did The Coordinating Center get its start?
“The Coordinating Center was founded as the Coordinating Center for Home and Community Care, Inc. (CCHCC) and was established in 1983 through a federal Maternal Child Health Bureau – Special Projects of Regional and National Significance (SPRANS) grant by a group of Maryland health, education, and social services leaders along with parents, who believed that children with complex medical needs would be better served in their homes, than in hospitals and long-term care settings. The Coordinating Center designed a model of care coordination to safely affect their transition from institutional care to homes in the community with their family and then to include them fully in communities.”

Who was Katie and Julie Beckett and what impact did they have on The Coordinating Center?
“Our founders were inspired by Katie Beckett, a little girl from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and several Maryland children who were forced to live in long-term care hospital units due to a lack of funding for home care. At four months of age, Katie was diagnosed with viral encephalitis, which left her partially paralyzed, with severe respiratory compromise, and needing 24-hour care. Katie’s care was supported by a $1 million maximum insurance policy, but when that ran out it forced her family to seek alternative options to fund her care. Katie qualified for Medicaid, but it would only cover her care if she remained in a hospital for that care. Her mother Julie Beckett was a fierce advocate, who, through her congressman, petitioned former President Ronald Regan to advocate for change in the Medicaid rules. President Reagan called for a dramatic change in the Medicaid rules, establishing waiver programs. The first Katie Beckett Waiver was signed in 1981, which allowed Katie and other individuals with disabilities like her, to receive their care at home while retaining their Medicaid coverage. This story inspired those associated with The Coordinating Center to establish a waiver program in Maryland to help facilitate the care for individuals with complex needs, so that they are able to live a full life.”

“We recently got in contact with Julie Beckett’s family to establish the Julie Beckett Award for Outstanding Child Advocacy in her honor. There are so many incredible parents like Julie who have brought tremendous change for children and youth with disabilities and/or complex medical needs through their advocacy efforts.”

Katie Beckett, 3 in 1981 leaving a hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with her parents
after a victory over health care red tape. United Press International

What is the Model Waiver?
“In Maryland, the Katie Beckett Waiver is called the Model Waiver. The very first recipients of the Model Waiver came on in 1985. There were some challenges at the beginning because not all stakeholders thought that these children could be safely cared for at home or attend school. With the help and approval of many brave doctors, nurses, and parents, we had to prove that, with appropriate supports, the care provided in the hospital could be provided at home. Through these efforts, a service system that supported home care evolved with training for pediatric nurses, changes in the availability of equipment and supplies and the establishment of safety protocols. This included protocols for the provision of nursing services in schools and the transportation of special equipment including oxygen tanks on school buses. Anytime a system is being changed there can be institutional and individual barriers, but The Coordinating Center’s advocacy and collaboration was proof that it could be done.”

What role have you played in shaping The Coordinating Center?
“In 1984, I left my work as a special education teacher and accepted a position at The Coordinating Center to continue my work advocating for full inclusion for children with special health care needs in school and community settings. With the collaboration and guidance of our first nurse case managers, I developed my skills as a case manager, working with participants and their families while continuing my education and rehabilitation advocacy. In the mid-1990s, The Coordinating Center began to develop our life care planning services and eventually, a new division emerged, our Medical Legal Services division. In 2000, I completed my training and certification in life care planning and in 2002, I achieved my certification as a case manager. Along the way, I served as the Associate Director of The Center and then the COO until 2019, when I transitioned to the full-time position of Senior Vice President, Medical Legal Services. This gave me an opportunity to expand that division, so that we can offer specialized case management services in addition to life care planning.”

Where do you see The Coordinating Center headed over the next five years?
“Over the next five years, The Coordinating Center will need the meet challenges in healthcare due to the overwhelming pressures that COVID and the economy have placed on health, education, and social service systems, statewide. Even though it is going to take years for the systems to regain their footing, I believe The Coordinating Center will always rise to the occasion in caring for each client. The Coordinating Center has always been known to partner with families, individuals, service systems and providers to advocate for individuals regardless of the complexity of their needs and circumstances. At the end of the day, if we have improved their lives, we have met our goals and achieved our mission.”