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news News Tuesday, October 13, 2020 Tuesday, October 13, 2020 1:55 AM - Tuesday, October 13, 2020 1:55 AM

Cheers to our care managers

Acknowledging extraordinary individuals who make up the Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu care management team

Cheers to our care managers

Care managers facilitate the seamless coordination of physical and behavioral care for patients and their families. They connect the child and family to the appropriate health care providers (doctors, counselors, physical therapists, etc.) and assist in ensuring that transportation needs for appointments are arranged. They create an individualized care plan for each patient to meet the child’s unique needs to include physical, mental, social and cultural preferences.

Most importantly, care managers work collaboratively with other teams in the hospital to ensure the appropriate care and treatments are provided throughout the patient’s entire health care journey.

Care management (also called case management) is not for the faint of heart. The work requires a strong and courageous individual to conquer the many challenges encountered each day. Whatever issue may arise, the care manager reacts with empathy, compassion and love (even if it is the tough variety).

No matter how many years one spends in the role, there is always something new to learn. But ask any care manager, and they will tell you this is what makes the job so fulfilling.

Indeed, the responsibility these health care heroes carry can be immense, which is why it takes a special person to hold the title of care manager. Below are two examples of the extraordinary individuals who make up the Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu care management team.

Cynthia “Cindy” Shimabukuro, LSW, CCM

Cindy began her career as a social worker 30 years ago. A licensed social worker (LSW), Cindy recently celebrated one year in care management after obtaining her certification in 2019.

“I have always wanted to be in a position to support people through life’s challenges. I saw social work as a way to be able to be there when people needed help the most. Now, care management allows me to be there when people need support and guidance at challenging times,” said Cindy.

Cindy’s desire to serve others during their greatest time of need led her to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu in July 2017.

“I have done a number of different types of social work in my career. Medical social work and care management have always been something I was interested in, and I was ready to learn a different area of social work,” she said.

Three questions with a care manager

Why did you join the Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu ‘ohana (family)?

Shriners Hospitals for Children has such a wonderful reputation in the community – the combination of great organization and new experiences is what drew me here.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I enjoy the variety. Every day is different and holds a new opportunity for learning and challenge. We have a great team here at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu, and I love interacting with all of the different departments and staff. The families and kids are awesome and provide inspiration daily.

Can you share an example of an experience that reminds you why you do what you do?

I recently helped one of our parents with a very energetic child have some time to cook meals. I would take this child for rides in a wagon around the campus every morning. His bright smile and excitement for our time in the wagon, and his joyful greetings to all who we passed along the way, still bring a smile to my face.

Helena Pontillas, LSW, CCM

Helena came to the Honolulu Shriners Hospital in June 2005 to fill an open care manager position. She explained that the mission of the hospital resonated with her, especially the opportunity to create a “compassionate, family-centered and collaborative care environment” for both the child and the ‘ohana.

“I appreciate that I can connect with our patients on a personal level and be part of their Shriners [Hospital] experience,’” she said.

More than 15 years later, Helena continues to cherish building relationships and learning new things in the process.

“At Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu, we have the opportunity to meet people from all across the Pacific – both patients in need of care and their loved ones who come here to support them. I love learning about their cultures, traditions and homelands. We get to see their lives transformed by the specialized orthopaedic care provided by the amazing staff here, and our lives also are transformed by getting to know the people we treat,” she said.

Three questions with a care manager

What inspired you to go into the field of care management?

I like the fast pace and the challenge of my job, but more importantly, I get to work with patients and their families all the way from their intake to the end of their treatment and discharge home. I get to develop a relationship with incredible young people and their families while problem-solving for any issue that may come up while they are receiving care. I get to utilize all my social work skills.

Can you share an example of an experience that reminds you why you do what you do?

My favorite memories involve working with patients who have come to us from homelands where they did not have access to specialized orthopaedic treatment for their condition. Occasionally, patients arrive at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu unable to walk, but are able to walk out of the front door by the end of their treatment. I get to be a part of these transformative journeys, and each one is a memory I cherish.

What do you enjoy doing on your free time?

I enjoy spending time with family, doing the New York Times crossword, reading and working on home improvement projects.