Honor Flight: What an Honor!

July 3, 2018 | Express Scripts

Drew H. is a senior manager of technology learning and development working to develop the talent and skills of technology employees.

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of going on my ninth flight with the Greater St. Louis Honor Flight. No matter how many times I go, I always feel privileged to be part of such a wonderful experience.

For those who may be unfamiliar, the Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created to honor America’s veterans for their sacrifices. It takes thousands of veterans to Washington, D.C. each year to celebrate their service and visit the monuments that pay tribute to them.

While I’ve participated in Honor Flights since 2015 – when I had the honor of being a guardian for a 94-year old World War II Veteran – a flight that occurred this past March will always stand out in my mind.

We started the day at 5 a.m., when we met at St. Louis Lambert International Airport. As the Flight Leader, I was responsible for leading a team of eight other leaders – including two EMTs – to get the 22 veteran honorees to Washington, D.C. and back safely.

Once we landed in Washington, D.C., our police escort took us to our stops, which included the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Air Force Memorial, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to watch the changing of the guard. As with all Honor Flights, it was a busy day, but one that was highly worth it. Nothing compares to seeing these veterans share their stories and reminisce with each other and even with other visitors at the memorials.

One of my favorite parts of each Honor Flight, happens at the airport before the return flight home. You see, the veterans all served before there was such a thing as email, so they looked forward to mail call, which was when they got letters from home. Just like when they served, we have mail call in the airport terminal during every Honor Flight, and each veteran receives a large envelope packed with all kinds of thank-you letters from friends, family members and local schoolchildren.

My other favorite part of the day is the Welcome Home Ceremony. It’s pretty special: Imagine coming home to hundreds of people, who are all cheering, applauding, waving American flags and thanking you for serving your country. The ceremony provides the proper welcome home that many of our veterans never received when they returned from war.

This March flight was extra special for me because it had several special connections to Express Scripts. This trip was named the “Express Scripts Flight,” because of our sponsorship. And Robin Wentworth, wife of Express Scripts President & CEO Tim Wentworth, graciously volunteered to be a guardian, and was responsible for providing one-on-one support to one of the 22 veterans on the trip.

Tim Wentworth, our CEO, served as a special guest speaker and flag bearer in the Sea of Flags portion of the Welcome Home Ceremony. The Sea of Flags is a cordon of American flags that greet the veterans when they return from their trip. Tim was one of 10 Express Scripts Sea of Flags volunteers.

 

As president of VaLOR (Veterans and Leaders Organizing Resources) — Express Scripts’ veterans Employee Resource Group — I’m proud to represent Express Scripts during the Honor Flights. And as a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, I’m proud to work for a company whose CEO was kind enough to participate in the Honor Flight and talk about the importance of honoring our veterans’ selfless acts of service.

If you haven’t been part of an Honor Flight, I encourage you to do it! Whether you volunteer to be a guardian, write a thank-you note, or join the crowd for the Welcome Home Ceremony, I promise that your time will be well spent.

For more information about how you can get involved with the Honor Flight Network, visit www.honorflight.org.

Interested in exploring a career with Express Scripts? Visit our career site for a full list of open positions.

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No Longer Following the Textbook

June 27, 2018 | Express Scripts

Johnna H. is the Director of Pharma Contracting on the Contract Strategy team and is responsible for the oversight of our proposal and contracting processes with Specialty Pharmaceutical Manufacturers.

I had a textbook life, if there is such a thing. I grew up in the Boston suburbs with my siblings, had a high school job, ran cross-country, played baseball, sang in chorus and acted in the school play. I married my high school sweetheart, Rebecca, moved to Florida, completed graduate school and became a parent to two beautiful children, Wayne and John. I coached T-ball and served as the co-committee chair for my son’s Cub Scout Pack. I love cheeseburgers, math, camping, hiking and running.

Although my story may seem somewhat typical from the outside, I was secretly struggling with an internal conflict and living in denial for as long as I can remember. Last year, I resolved that conflict when I admitted to myself that I am transgender and began my journey of transitioning. I am a transgender woman.

Gender identity can be a very confusing concept. The vast majority of the population is cisgender, which means that the gender they internally identify with aligns with their biological sex. For the remaining minority of the population, there is a mismatch between the two. It is hard — if not impossible — to put into plain words what it is like to have your mind, heart and soul be female and your body be male. It is as if the whole world is not seeing the real you.

Many who have already taken this path explained to me that this is a long and slow process. In contrast, my wife said, “You don’t do anything slowly.” You can probably guess who was right. Over the course of three months, I came out to the world, changed my legal name and started living life as Johnna. Being on this journey has been the most difficult thing I have ever done, but being true to myself has also been one of the most rewarding chapters of my life so far.

I am fortunate that I have received tremendous support from my wife, family, friends and co-workers. I am especially thankful for Express Scripts’ support during my transition and their commitment to diversity. My first job in high school was with Freedom Fertility Pharmacy, a subsidiary of Express Scripts. This means that for more than half of my life, the Express Scripts family has been by my side during life’s challenges. I was relieved to learn that this transition would be no different. People always ask how everyone is taking the change at work. I always reply: hugs and smiles.

Part of the mission of the EXPRESSions, Express Scripts’ LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group, is to foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable bringing their whole self to work, feeling secure, respected and accepted. A large part of me wants to simply blend in as just another woman and not share my story. However, if it helps someone else be true to their self and raises awareness of transgender issues, then being “out” is worth it.

Since starting this new chapter, I have experienced feelings that I have never felt before. When I described them to my wife, she said that these are feelings of peace and calmness. I am glad I am no longer living a textbook life, and I cannot imagine it any other way.

« Hemophilia Then and Now: A Look at How Far We’ve Come| Honor Flight: What an Honor! »

Hemophilia Then and Now: A Look at How Far We’ve Come

May 30, 2018 | Express Scripts

Andy B. is a customer relations specialist working at Accredo, Express Scripts’ specialty pharmacy.

In my role with Accredo, I help our customers with bleeding disorders like hemophilia, overcome any obstacles to care, and connect them to financial and community resources. For those who may be unfamiliar, hemophilia is a genetic condition that keeps blood from clotting properly.  People with bleeding disorders can have significant internal bleeding from a simple injury, like bumping a knee or an elbow.  A large part of my job involves not only providing information to patients, but also offering them support and understanding. You see, I have a special connection to these patients because I also have hemophilia.

Hemophilia runs in my family, so when my mother was expecting my twin brother and me, she told her doctor, and we were tested as newborns. Our hemophilia was classified between moderate and mild, and we were encouraged to play and have fun. We both played soccer and were typical, active boys. After all, studies showed that hemophilia patients who were more active strengthened the muscles around their joints, which could help decrease the effects of a bleed when one occurs.

Until the late 1960s, life expectancy of people with hemophilia was much shorter than average, because there wasn’t an effective treatment. That changed when clotting factor, a new medication that could control clotting, started being produced. Finally, bleeding could be controlled! This meant that people with hemophilia, like my brother, Steven, and me, had the prospect of living longer lives.

To make a batch of this new clotting factor, manufacturers used the plasma of up to 60,000 donors. While it was an efficient way to make a lot of medicine, the blood and plasma supply wasn’t as safe as it is now, causing around 10,000 people with hemophilia to contract HIV.

During this time, education about AIDS wasn’t as advanced as it is today, causing a negative stigma to be attached to hemophilia. You may remember a boy named Ryan White, who had hemophilia and was diagnosed with AIDS in 1984 following treatment with clotting factor. Since little was known about AIDS at the time, Ryan gained national attention as he fought a lengthy court case to regain admittance to his school, where officials, teachers, parents and students believed he could transmit HIV by casual contact. Sadly, Ryan died just one month before his high school graduation. This event had a personal significance for me as my brother passed away from side effects of HIV when we were both 19 years old.

Over the years as medicine and research advanced, so did treatments for hemophilia.  Newer advancements led to the creation of new treatments that required fewer weekly infusions. Throughout my life and during my 26 years working with hemophilia patients at Accredo, I’ve been able to experience firsthand just how far we’ve come with treatment, and the knowledge and acceptance of hemophilia and HIV.

Successful management of bleeding disorders includes independent administration of the intravenous clotting factor.  This can be a huge obstacle for a parent or a young person to overcome!  Luckily, bleeding disorder summer camps operate in nearly every state, and help promote this crucial skill.  I support the community by volunteering at several of the summer camps, where the amazing medical and support staff encourage young people to explore what it means to be medically and physically independent.

As the industry recognized World Hemophilia Day on April 17, I’m proud of the progress we’ve made. And, I know my brother would be, too.

Looking for a career where you can make a positive difference in patient lives? View a full listing of our open jobs on our career site.

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Coding Hobby Turned Career Change

May 15, 2018 | Express Scripts

Bobby Adashev is an associate programmer analyst working to create technology that helps members save money on their prescriptions.

Bobby’s path to working in technology has been anything but traditional. As a journalism and economics major, he began working in film and television production after graduating from college. The next 5 years of his career were spent editing and producing videos at CNBC, NBCUniversal, and NBC News.

“I’ve always had an affinity for tech and computers, but I was a bit intimidated by programming until about a year after graduating college,” Bobby said. “That’s when I decided to give Codeacademy a try.” For those that may be unfamiliar, Codeacademy is an online platform that offers free coding classes in 12 different programming languages. Hours of tutorials, tinkering, and testing later, Bobby turned his coding hobby into a career change.

When Bobby heard about a technology opening at Express Scripts, he decided to look into the company. “What really drew me to Express Scripts was the ability for me to take my tech obsession to the next level. It’s one thing to code and work on your own, but it’s an entirely better experience to have people around that can teach and guide you.”

Currently, Bobby works on a team tasked with developing software that decides whether medications can be switched from one drug to another, more cost effective drug when appropriate. Improvements Bobby and his team make not only save consumers money on their medications, but make the drug determination process much quicker.

While Bobby has only been in his role for a little over a year, the amount he’s learned is unmatched. “The one reason I really love working at Express Scripts, is the open and supportive culture,” said Bobby. “Senior developers and managers are always open to answer questions and teach me about the business side of the organization, not just the technology side.”

Bobby’s advice for anyone thinking about making a switch to the technology field is to choose a structured online program and stick with it. “Also, building a portfolio is extremely important,” said Bobby. “Portfolios are a way to show and not just tell other people what you can do.”

Thinking about turning your technology hobby into a career? Check out our career site for a full list of our open positions.

« I’m Only One Call Away…I’ll Be There to Save your Day| Hemophilia Then and Now: A Look at How Far We’ve Come »

I’m Only One Call Away…I’ll Be There to Save your Day

February 28, 2018 | Express Scripts

Teresa H. is a patient care advocate working to research and resolve problems for both internal and external customers surrounding their benefits and medications.

When people ask me what I do for a living, they’re usually confused when I say I’m a Patient Care Advocate (PCA). And I get it; PCA is a pretty ambiguous title. But, let me try to explain it to you.

Finding My Fit

After starting with Express Scripts back in 2011, I spent the first five and a half years working in the Memphis call center assisting members with questions about their medications and benefits. I learned a lot during that time, and in April 2016, had the opportunity to take on more of a research role supporting the call center. I would best describe this position as a liaison for the company and my peers. When a member request is flagged as unresolved, I review the call, confirm where the breakdown took place, and then research how we can resolve the situation. I’m a very analytical person and I find the process fascinating.

In my experience, most breakdowns occur because of a misunderstanding.   Healthcare is an incredibly complex industry, which makes it difficult to navigate and understand. That’s why I believe communication is the key to getting all parties on the same page. I make it my mission to look at every unresolved member situation as if it’s personally happening to me so I can best explain to patients how we can resolve their problem.

Keeping My Skills Sharp

Though I’m no longer on the phones on a daily basis, I occasionally take calls when I have the opportunity, to keep my skills sharp. I’m always available to jump on a call with one of my peers when they have a question or need help fulfilling a customer request. To stay up-to-date on healthcare trends, I read everything I see about the industry and Medicare. At my location, I sit with the call center team so I stay educated on difference processes. And, above all else, I continually ask questions.

I’m very proud of the eight years I’ve spent at Express Scripts. I initially looked into joining the company because my younger sister worked here, and I’ve continued to stay because I believe healthcare is an industry that is forever. (In fact, my sister and I have both stayed together – she’s nearing her eleventh year at Express Scripts.) Leaders demonstrate every day that we are employees and not just numbers without a voice. My role allows me the flexibility to have nights and weekends off to be home with my family, which is different from the previous customer service roles I’ve held.  I strive every day to do my best and help others realize their potential. I believe in making the world a better place and I believe my role allows me to do just that.

Interested in a role where you can make a difference? Visit our career site for a full list of our open positions.

« I Am Alive Thanks to Thrive| Coding Hobby Turned Career Change »