Care Guides of Castlight: Donna Travis

Welcome to Care Guides of Castlight, a series of personal profiles of Castlight Care Guides. Our Care Guides are a diverse group of clinical, billing, and benefits professionals who help our members navigate the healthcare system, maximize their benefits, and manage their health. We are excited to introduce you to them and to the important work they do!

Donna Travis always wanted to work in the medical field. She experienced her own health problems growing up, and her namesake is the labor and delivery nurse who helped deliver her—perhaps a sign this career path was written in the stars.

Donna didn’t enter the healthcare industry immediately, though. After high school, she worked as a receptionist at a packaging supply company. At one point, she asked if she could try her hand at sales. Close to filing for bankruptcy, her supervisor didn’t see the harm and said yes. So, Donna started reaching out to potential buyers—and ended up selling six million dollars’ worth of product in one month. After that, she was officially a Sales team member.

Despite her unexpected success as a salesperson, Donna’s heart was still pulling her toward a career in medicine. In her new role, she traveled quite a lot, but she still found a way to fit in nursing school classes whenever she could, whether they were at night, on the weekends, or online. And in the free weekend time she had, she also volunteered as a home health aide.

Once she graduated nursing school, the organization Donna volunteered for offered her a full-time job as a hospice nurse, which she happily accepted. She spent 13 years in that role before transferring into pediatric nursing then treatment nursing (also known as wound care).

About four years ago, Donna relocated to North Carolina from Pennsylvania. The healthcare company she worked for had locations in both places, so they were able to transfer her when she moved. However, the North Carolina site only had per diem work, and Donna wanted a full-time role. While looking around on Indeed.com, she came across the listing for a Castlight Care Guide, though the role wasn’t named that yet.

The position was still very new—Castlight launched Care Guides in late 2019—and all Donna knew was that it was some type of virtual nursing opportunity. There were no other details at the time. Nevertheless, she had a gut feeling that she should just go for it. And she’s so happy she did.

“I think what Castlight’s doing is vital for healthcare,” she says. “We provide members with a group of people who are willing to take on some of the burden for them so they can get the right healthcare—without having to cut corners—and still be able to spend time with their loved ones.”

Near the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, for example, a member named Arnold* reached out to Donna after receiving an email from Castlight about scheduling a primary care visit. He told Donna he didn’t have a primary care physician (PCP) yet, and he needed her help finding one and scheduling a visit. Since it was the early days of the pandemic, many providers weren’t accepting new patients. Donna ended up calling 17 providers before she found one that would.

Arnold was so happy with his Care Guide experience that he asked Donna to help his wife make an appointment, too. He told Donna, “if it had been up to him, he never would have called that many providers. He would have given up,” she says. “But I told him, ‘That’s our goal. To give you back your life, give you back your time, and give you back your money.’” 

Donna’s favorite part about being a nurse is being able to take care of people, no matter where they’re at in their unique healthcare journey. Her message to each and every Castlight member is: “I will do the best I can for you. I will give you nothing less than the absolute best of what I have to give for your case and your healthcare needs.”

Her second favorite thing is the opportunity to problem solve, something she gets to do even more as a Castlight Care Guide. Donna loves understanding how things work, from the ins and outs of the healthcare system to the anatomy, kinesiology, and physiology of the human body. She’s passionate about helping members identify all the different puzzle pieces of their personal health journey and figure out how to best fit them together.

A few months ago, for example, a member named Layla* reached out. She wanted to make an appointment with a cardiologist, but there was just one problem: She needed a referral, and her PCP had recently passed away. She didn’t want to wait until she could connect with and get a referral from a new PCP. This was a pressing health issue, and she wanted to get on the cardiologist’s schedule as soon as possible. With Layla’s permission, Donna called an urgent care center in Layla’s area and confirmed they would provide a referral as soon as Layla could come in for a visit.

After seeing the cardiologist, Layla discovered there were several underlying health issues she needed to address as well, such as meeting with an endocrinologist and getting lab work done. “We started with just one little need and it ended up being a mountain,” Donna says, “But we were able to work through it together.”

Ultimately, in order to get back on the road to good health, Layla needed to use her FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) benefits. Donna helped her every step of the way. “All the programs she needed—connecting with multiple specialists, getting lab work, and setting up short-term disability, and more—were in her Castlight app,” says Donna. “I pointed her in the right direction and made sure she had all the connections she required.”

When Donna isn’t working, she’s probably outside. A runner since high school, she wakes up every morning around 4 AM to run between five to eight miles, and she occasionally participates in half and full marathons. She spends a lot of time hiking in the nearby mountains or paddleboarding in the lake a mere 25 feet from her house. 

*Names have been changed for confidentiality.