Nicole Christensen Earns Board Certified Patient Advocate (BCPA) Certification

Nicole Christensen, owner of Care Answered, has earned the Board Certified Patient Advocate (BCPA) credential. The BCPA designation acknowledges patient advocate professionals who have demonstrated their experience and proficiency in the field of patient advocacy. The BCPA credential is built on ethical standards, professional competencies and best practices for professionals who work in the emerging field of patient advocacy and have taken the steps necessary to become certified.

Christensen started Care Answered, a healthcare coordination and patient advocacy consulting firm, in 2014. A native Long Islander who has lived and worked in both Nassau and Suffolk Counties, as well as NYC, she has more than 15 years’ experience in advocacy for older adults. Christensen earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Baruch College and a Master of Science degree in Urban Affairs from Hunter College. Her career includes serving as Advocacy Director at Emmaus Service for the Aging in Washington, DC; Advocacy Consultant for LiveOn NY; and Director of Food Access at FoodChange, spearheading the focused outreach and advocacy campaign. As the Vice President of Programs and Agency Relations at Island Harvest, she developed and launched the first senior citizen mobile outreach and advocacy program.

In addition to her professional experience, Christensen has had the personal challenge of securing the best possible care for her own family and thus understands how overwhelming and daunting it can seem.

“I call upon both my professional skills and my personal experience to provide every client with effective advocacy,” said Christensen. “Knowing how to navigate the healthcare system, access the benefits to which families are entitled, and obtain the safest, most appropriate care for my clients and their loved ones is so rewarding. My goal is to provide families with peace of mind and often help them save money as they ensure that their loved ones are well-cared for.”

After conducting industry research, the BCPA certification was created to recognize professionals who are committed to ongoing professional development and the attainment of the skills and knowledge necessary to perform their jobs at the highest level. The BCPA credential is also an avenue for employers to recognize and promote professionalism in patient advocacy.

“It is gratifying to have achieved this certification attesting to the knowledge and experience I have amassed during my career,” said Christensen.

For additional information on Care Answered, visit or call (516) 584-2007. To learn more about PACB, visit its website.

You Can’t Take Them with You: April is National Donate Life Month



This month I had to renew my license and once again checked off the box for organ donor.  What a sense of accomplishment with such little effort!  Will you join me?

The Need

About 114,000 Americans – roughly the population of Ann Arbor, Michigan – are awaiting a life-saving organ transplant. Every day, 20 people on that list die waiting, while another person is added every ten minutes.

Deciding to become an organ donor is a simple process that requires registration with your state. In New York, you can easily register to become an organ donor when you renew your license or non-driver identification card with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). While New York is home to 10 percent of all Americans awaiting an organ donation, the state lags the national average for organ donors, with only 29% of eligible adults enrolled in the registry compared to 51% who have registered nationwide.

Anyone aged 16 and over can join the New York State Organ Donor Registry, and there is no upper age limit for potential donors. In fact, the oldest organ donor in the U.S. was 93. Donor suitability is based solely on the donor’s medical condition and history. Organs that may be donated to help save a life include the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and intestines. Corneas may be donated to help restore sight. Tissue donation may be used to replace bone, cartilage and ligaments damaged by disease or injury.

One single organ donor can save up to eight lives and benefit 75 other patients who are in need of donor tissue.

Overcoming Objections

There are many reasons why people shy away from enrolling in the donor registry. Some worry that being an organ donor is against their religion. In reality, all major faiths support organ donation. You can read more about your faith’s position on organ donation here.

Others may be concerned that organ donation will disfigure the body or preclude an open casket funeral service. This is not the case; organ donors may still have an open casket as there is no visible evidence of organ donation on the donor’s body.

Some people question whether their decision to donate organs will impact on their medical care at the end of life. This is not an issue. The organ donor team and the medical treatment team are separate. Every effort is made to save the life of the organ donor. Only when those efforts have been exhausted is the organ donation team notified of the potential availability of organs for a recipient on the waiting list.

April is National Donate Life Month, an annual campaign designed to increase awareness of the dire need for organ donors and to dispel myths surrounding organ donation. As Spring makes a return across our region, it’s natural to think about rebirth and new life. Why not take a moment this month to help another person by making the ultimate gift of life: become an organ donor.

Learn more about becoming an organ donor in New York State.

When the Caregiver Needs Care, You Need an Advocate



Rick Pantuliano lives with his wife and two daughters just a short drive away from his parents’ Nassau County home. This proximity has allowed them to maintain a close relationship with his 77-year-old mother. Yet even though he is nearby, he still needed professional help when his mother’s dementia became significant enough that she required round-the-clock care.

“It got to a point where my mom needed to go on Medicaid,” Rick said. “Applying was a confusing process. I was pulling my hair out.”

His attorney recommended that he contact Nicole Christensen of Care Answered.

“She held my hand through the entire process,” he recalled. “She helped me understand every step of a very time consuming and complicated situation.”

Describing his mom, Raffaela, as a strong woman who was traditionally the caregiver for other family members, Rick related how she began to show signs of dementia about six years ago, six years after his father passed away from emphysema.

“She took care of her sick aunt, who died of cancer. Then she cared for her uncle who passed away of old age. She took care of her own mom and dad who lived with them for years. She took care of a lot of people,” Rick said. “Now it’s her turn, and there’s nobody there but me.”

Commuting from Long Island each day to his job in New Jersey keeps him away for long hours, adding to the stress of trying to ensure that his mom’s needs were being met. Nicole’s assistance helped Rick feel confident that he was arranging for the most appropriate care possible for his mom.

“I would still be at the starting line if it wasn’t for Nicole,” he noted. “She was my advocate. She walked me through the entire process and stepped in whenever I felt I was hitting a brick wall. She translated everything and made it understandable and easy.”

More importantly, Nicole’s intervention will ultimately save the family a significant amount of money. With her help, Rick was able to access funding to pay for live-in aides for his mom – services for which he had been paying out of pocket each month.

Rick worked with Nicole for about five months. She brought him to a point where he has a much better understanding of how the system works and feels empowered to handle the hurdles he faces. She reassured him recently by saying, “You got this,” when he was confronted with yet another form to fill out.

And he agrees. “I am basically comfortable with everything at this point,” he said.

His mom is living safely at home with 24-hour aides. Rick is thankful for the ongoing support of his wife and daughters, and for Nicole’s intervention when he needed her expertise most.

“I would highly recommend Nicole to anybody,” he said. “Unless you’re home 24 hours a day and don’t have a job and understand the ins and outs of the healthcare system, you absolutely need an advocate. Nicole is a wonderful person. She is very caring, very in tune to your needs, and she just does her job very, very well.”