Spotlight: Julie Swedberg, Cass Lake

It’s easy to mistake HealthStar as just a Metro-Area agency, with Corporate, Twin Cities Skilled, and Inver Grove Heights all being around the metro. But we have more offices outside the metropolis than in it! Looking north, you’ll find some of HealthStar’s craftiest and thriftiest “family members” in the Cass and Bemidji offices. Julie Swedberg, Branch Manager (aka Thrift Master) brings many talents to HealthStar’s Cass Lake office. She’s dedicated to serving HealthStar’s unique Client base and spends her time spreading warm, fuzzy feelings all through the land of Cass!

Inspired by her sister’s experiences as a CNA, Julie got her CNA certification and worked in a nursing home early in her health care career, and later became an LPN. Julie says that to feel the love and trust that patients have towards her as a nurse has been priceless. Her studies continued with a 2-year business degree, and in 2015 she found herself with multiple job offers (of course!). Lucky for us, HealthStar won the dangerous duel for Julie’s heart, and she joined our team as Branch Manager.

A Running Start

Oh boy, did Julie hit the ground running! Julie started during a period of great stress and transition for HealthStar. The Cass Lake office was going through some changes, to put it mildly. Things have settled down since then, thanks to Julie’s “special touch.” She knows how to take things in stride, and she doesn’t get too riled up during difficult times. Julie says that her love of gardening helps her stay calm – she loves to take photos of her flower gardens and often spends time thinking through her current challenges and stresses while walking through the flowers.

Keeping herself grounded and stress-free sure comes in handy when our HealthStar family gets together. Julie’s calm and matter-of-fact ways help keep us all on track and on time! But don’t let her “down to business” routine fool you – Julie has a great sense of humor and loves to stir up some fun. Her laugh comes up from her toes! And if you want to see her soft side, just ask about her sons. We’ve all met the little one, Ryker – he’s a Corporate Meeting Regular! Without further ado – please allow me to share with you my three favorite things about Julie. Julie Swedberg, the HealthStar spotlight’s on you!

An “old school” master chef

Julie’s mastery in the kitchen is appreciated by many mouths and stomachs across the land. In between office hours, community events, sports with the kids, and family time, Julie somehow finds time to preserve her own jellies and jams. She does this in large enough quantity that she sells them at the community farmers’ market! I can say as a personal recipient of Julie’s “jam variety pack” that this stuff is DELICIOUS! I would eat it with a fox, in a box, on a train, in the rain, and anywhere else for that matter. Yum!

Canning isn’t her only kitchen specialty, though – Julie can bake, sauté, steam, sear, and roast, too. She’s like a human instant pot, so many functions that you just can’t get enough! She’s not afraid of a little chopping – it lets her exercise her aggressive side. Yeah, she can get tough when she needs to, but most of the time she doesn’t. She gets pretty far with honey.

Julie’s love of cooking has a family history; her mom is also an awesome cook. Sometimes, they team up for community events – I know Julie’s mom makes a killer fry-bread taco! Why, oh why couldn’t Julie have grown up in the Metro so that I can have a fry-bread taco? It’s so true that life just isn’t fair.

Oh, so thrifty!

Julie pretends to come down to Corporate for meetings, but we’re pretty sure she actually comes down for the thrift store shopping. She makes a great round of the local thrift stores when she’s in town. Sometimes, she goes with Chasidy Myhrer, Bemidji Operations Manager (aka “hammer of the north”). They are a sight to behold, with so much treasure for so little cost! Great taste, great value – if Julie had a personal motto, that might just be it. I’m so jealous of her saving ways. I’ve never seen a dollar stretched so thin.

This special thrifting ability doesn’t just apply to shopping for Julie’s family, though. She also puts her special thrifty talents to work for her office, squeezing every penny out of her dollars. She considers her office budget with every decision she makes, going so far as to do her own cooking for events – lucky for the guests!

We didn’t know it when we hired Julie, but she’s a package deal, and we are so lucky for it! She gets her family involved in planning and hosting duties, which helps keep down the cost of extra help. Aside from helping out with community events on several occasions, Julie’s mom has also become our official “Corporate Meetings Mom,” always stopping in to say hello with Ryker when they’re in town. We’ve decided to make Ryker our official Corporate Meeting Mascot. It’s always nice for our HealthStar family to see the Swedberg family!

Heart full of love!

No one asks Julie to come to community events. They just put her on the schedule and tell her she’s coming! She’s made a name for herself in the community, and she and HealthStar are so proud of this! We’ve seen (and posted) photos of her spectacular booth setup at events; she really makes it look homey and comfortable. Julie doesn’t need much of an arm twist to help in the community – she gets involved because she loves it! She makes community events a priority for herself and her family because she wants to see the Cass Lake community thrive. Her energy and enthusiasm help get others going at events, which is why she is always invited back! The warmth and kindness that Julie brings with her to work is the same warmth and kindness that she pours into every event she attends.

Julie doesn’t save all of her love for community events, though. She also likes to know all about the people she works with, so that she can show us some love, too! At the recent Corporate meetings, Julie was spotted taking notes about everything, from Corporate updates down to each person’s personality type and conflict resolution style. “You never know when this kind of thing might come in handy,” she says.

Julie’s love for her community also translates to love for her Clients and staff. Julie is friendly and caring, and she expects her team to follow her example (which they do very well!). Call the Cass Lake office, and you’ll probably talk to Michelle Colliflower or Jean Bartell, two of the nicest and funniest ladies in Cass Lake! Karen rounds out the group with plenty of experience, wisdom, and patience. Julie puts a lot of love into this team, and it shows! This great group offers PCA, HMK, and skilled services in the Cass Lake area, and they are determined to show the love of their office to all of their Clients and field staff!

Julie, all wrapped up

Julie is like a pioneer woman, mixed with a kindergarten teacher, mixed with a ferocious lion – she has amazing kitchen skills, she loves to show her kind side, but when she needs to, she bares those teeth and gets things done! She represents HealthStar just the way we like it – leading with kindness and support, delicious with a touch of spice and a whole lot of love. Visit the HealthStar booth at the next Cass Lake health fair and find out what you’ve been missing!

And Julie – thanks for the jam, I’ve finished most of it and I’ll be patiently waiting for another shipment. 😊

Veterans’ Services

HealthStar Home Health is a Medicare Certified Home Health Agency offering a wide range of home health care services including home health care, mental health services, homemaking, and skilled nursing. Our goal is to maximize the client’s ability to function in their own home by providing a safe, clean and healthy home environment. Understanding the particular struggles VA clients encounter when trying to receive services, HealthStar Home Health has introduced services focused on Veterans in rural Minnesota areas and the needs they face.

Through a philosophy of servant leadership, we focus on the client’s inherent right to be treated with honor and dignity. We believe in empowering individuals and their family members to be active participants in the provision of care.

Blog_Veteran_YoungServing Veterans of all ages, our services are designed to keep Veterans living in their own home. We will work with your VA provider, case manager and/or physician to develop a care plan tailored to your needs. Our team of professionals will handle all the necessary billing, payroll and administrative responsibilities surrounding your care.

We are happy to hire a friend or family member of the Veteran to provide services in the home. If the Veteran does not have a specific request, we will work with the Vet and family to find a great match with our current staff. HealthStar performs a criminal background study of all in-home caregivers, along with a personal interview, reference checks and competency evaluation. All of our employees working with clients are also provided training.

Our Home Health Aides work under the supervision of a licensed professional, such as a Registered Nurse. Home Health Aides and Homemakers are trained by experienced HealthStar Home Health staff who will go to the Veteran’s home to assist with daily living activities, such as:

  • Assistance with meal preparation and feeding
  • Maintaining a safe living environment
  • Getting in and out of bed safely
  • Daily personal care (toileting, bathing, shaving)
  • Light housekeeping
  • Laundry
  • Shopping and errands
  • Social support
  • Accompany on outings and appointments

Our skilled nursing services to Veterans recovering from an illness or injury offer the convenience of nursing services while remaining in the comfort of your own home. These visits are provided by a trained licensed professional, such as a Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse, who will work with your physician to ensure successful recovery. Skilled nursing services may include:

  • Medication management
  • Pain management
  • Wound care, dressing changes
  • Bowel and bladder care

Interested in HealthStar Home Health Veterans Services and wondering how to get started? Contact your local VA provider and let them know you would like services through HealthStar Home Health. We will work with your VA provider to find out what services you qualify for. We are currently contracted with the St. Cloud VA Health Care System and the Minneapolis VA Health Care System. Not in one of these systems? Contact your local VA Health Care System to inquire how to get services started with HealthStar Home Health.

HealthStar Home Health understands how overwhelming and challenging it can be to care for a loved one at home and offer a variety of home health care services to help support your loved one to live a more independent and fulfilling life at home. To learn more about the various skilled nursing, skilled therapies, and mental health services available, as well as the cultural initiatives we offer, visit our website.

Choosing home healthcare services shouldn’t involve settling for care that doesn’t reflect the needs of the individual. With HealthStar Home Health you will always be in control of your care (or that of your loved one), and allow you to receive the services you need in conjunction with the attentiveness to cultural background that defines superior home health care. Call us today at 651-633-7300 for more information or to schedule a no-charge consultation.

Spotlight: Nilda Garcia, Sagrado Corazón

Nilda Garcia and Sagrado Corazón: HealthStar’s Spanish-Speaking Support Service

Spanish-speaking Clients of HealthStar are very familiar with Nilda Garcia. She is the warm and caring voice of the Sagrado Corazón (Sacred Heart) program for Latino Clients of HealthStar. For 10 years, Nilda has been putting her “special touch” on everything that she does, from event planning to office organization and troubleshooting IT problems. With her recent promotion to Program Manager of Sagrado Corazón, Nilda is ready for action with renewed energy and focus. Nilda, the HealthStar Spotlight is on you!

A little history

Nilda has been with HealthStar since 2008, when she started as an Assistant Program Coordinator in HealthStar’s basement suite on Bloomington and 21st. Then, in 2009, Nilda helped open the West St. Paul office – the original home of Sagrado Corazón. But don’t get too comfortable, Nilda! Just a year later, HealthStar moved from the location on 21st into another building on Franklin Ave in Minneapolis. The West St. Paul office merged into the new location as well.

Nilda made the Franklin office her new home as an Assistant Program Development Liaison. She worked in the community and continued as primary contact for Sagrado Corazón. During the next 2 years, Nilda helped HealthStar achieve Medicare certification and had a front-row seat for the beginning of HealthStar’s Mental Health initiative. In 2010, Nilda watched Corporate move from Maplewood to a new building in North St. Paul. Then, In 2017, the Franklin office moved to a new location in Inver Grove Heights. Once again, Nilda unpacked and organized a new space. This new location is beautiful, with big windows and lots of wild turkeys outside! It’s a great place to re-focus and re-energize. Throughout all these changes, Nilda’s positive attitude and sense of humor kept her office mates in good spirits!

 Nilda, how do you do it all?

So, what makes Nilda tick? How can she weather all these changes and still be a constant source of positive energy? A secret about Nilda – she has superpowers. Lots of them. I’ll tell you about some, but you must promise not to say that I told you. Nilda doesn’t like to be the center of attention and won’t want everyone talking about her special abilities.

Superpower #1

Nilda’s first superpower is that she is amazing with event planning. She loves to get people together and celebrate! Nilda’s smile and laugh bring light and joy to the group. She is a great cook and loves to try new foods. Nilda says that her favorite thing about HealthStar is the family atmosphere. Working here is like working at a family gathering, because you’re surrounded by happy people who care about each other. Nilda fondly remembers when a special Client celebrated her 100th birthday last year – with Nilda at the party, of course! Nilda especially loves planning events for Sagrado Corazón, because she gets to use one of her other superpowers – the Latina superpower!

Superpower #2

Nilda’s Latina superpower comes from her family in South Texas, on the border of Mexico. Nilda loves to celebrate her Latina roots with the Sagrado Corazón team. She is always willing to help teach a little Spanish on the side, which has been one of my personal favorite things about working with Nilda. She is a very lenient Spanish teacher, unlike Cristina Hernandez, Corporate and Twin Cities Skilled Admin – also a superpowered Latina, but much stricter in the Spanish-speaking department! A little-known fact is that Nilda is close friends with Cristina’s mother, Marisol. Get them together, and I can only imagine the cooking and laughing!

Superpower #3

The last superpower that I will reveal about Nilda is that she is a multi-talented and very organized superheroine. She processes payroll, troubleshoots technology issues, and answers phones in two languages (backing up the lovely and talented Barbara Edwards at IGH), all while drinking her French vanilla coffee and running around in her high heels. Nilda is a positive force at the Inver Grove office, keeping things fun and exciting for the team. She has a fabulous sense of humor and is not afraid to pull pranks to get everyone in a good mood. She once dressed up the CPR dummy and scared RN Sue Schaber by leaving it in the bathroom overnight. Boy, was Sue surprised when she came in early thinking she had the office to herself!

Nilda says that her greatest accomplishment at HealthStar is learning to walk in another person’s shoes. She appreciates learning with her team and is grateful for the opportunities that HealthStar offers for personal and professional growth. She knows that she has great things ahead with Sagrado Corazón, and is looking forward to putting renewed focus and energy into the program. We hope you’ll check out what Sagrado Corazón has to offer, and learn more about our awesome team!

Sagrado Corazón Salud en el Hogar

HealthStar Home Health helps the populations we serve by identifying and focusing on prevalent health conditions such as high rates of heart disease or diabetes in specific communities. Responding to requests from people in diverse communities, HealthStar develops culturally-relevant services while identifying barriers to care, and then launches culture-specific care and prevention programs. Today, our culturally-relevant programs offer services that address the unique needs of populations such as African Immigrant, African American, Native American, Hispanic/Latino, and other communities. Sagrado Corazón Salud en el Hogar addresses the cultural, ethnic and language needs of Minnesota’s Latino community. This month we caught up with Nilda Garcia, Sagrado Corazón program manager to learn more about this particular initiative.

Recognizing the Latino/Spanish presence in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area, HealthStar Home Health originally launched the Sagrado Corazón Salud en el Hogar program 10 years ago. It quickly became Minnesota’s premier provider and trusted source of home health services for the Latino community that effectively addresses the unique cultural, ethnic, and language needs of Latinos in Minnesota. Nilda Garcia, Program Manager, works with this and other HealthStar initiatives including Native American culture and English-speaking communities.

Re-Launch

Recently re-launched, the Sagrado Corazón program has more of a presence and built a trust within the community over the years while assessing the needs of this program in the Latino culture. A backbone in the Latino culture is family helping family. Through this program, HeathStar Home Health hires family members to take care of family who are aging, have become ill, or recovering from surgery. A tradition in the Latino culture is to care for family in their own homes and nursing homes or assisted living options are not typically pursued. We found that family members were having to take time off their regular job to care for their family, which in turn created challenges in their home life. As part of this program, HealthStar hires the family member and pays them to care for their loved ones.

Word of the program has been shared within the Latino community. HeathStar Home Health goes into community centers, attends local events, and visits churches to educate and spread the word about the program. If there is interest, HealthStar will work with the caregiver and their health care provider (if they already have one). There is a team of nurses who supports this program. Currently, there are only English-speaking nurses on the team, but Nilda goes with them to help translate. Nilda and the team of nurses will also do home visits, meet with caregivers, research insurance qualifications are available, background checks for caregiver, provide care training, attend to specific client needs and many other.

Insurance

Many in the Latino community do not have insurance coverage, Medicare or assistance. The professionals at HealthStar Home Health will walk the patient through the steps if there is insurance or help them understand if they can qualify.

Training

There is standard training for Minnesota state requirements. When conducting training, we begin with completing the state hiring forms. The caregiver will work with a nurse and go over topics such as:

  • HIPPA laws
  • Importance of hand washing and proper technique
  • Proper use of gloves
  • Transferring a patient
  • What to observe
  • What to report to nurses
  • Proper use of 9-1-1
  • Harassment

One important aspect of our training is our 24ECC program which is a formalized value-based cultural competence proprietary program: The 24 Expressions of Company Culture. These 24 expressions are aligned with HealthStar’s four chosen values of Servant Leadership, Empathy, Altruism, and Integrity. We review this culture and ensure the caregivers live it too. Learn more about our 24ECC employee program by watching this video:

Nilda has been with HealthStar Home Health for 10 years and has worked with some families just as long. She builds a close relationship with the families she works with, they even stop in the office to visit when they get lonely or want to chat. Nilda says “I see some patients starting with nothing. I am proud to know I am helping them get the services they need and assist with communication through translation. I love witnessing the roots of the family and their culture grow over the years I have known them.”

HealthStar Home Health understands how overwhelming and challenging it can be to care for a loved one at home and offer a variety of home health care services to help support your loved one to live a more independent and fulfilling life at home. To learn more about the various skilled nursing, skilled therapies, and mental health services available, as well as the cultural initiatives we offer, visit our website.

Choosing home healthcare services shouldn’t involve settling for care that doesn’t reflect the needs of the individual. With HealthStar Home Health you will always be in control of your care (or that of your loved one), and allow you to receive the services you need in conjunction with the attentiveness to cultural background that defines superior home health care. Call us today at 651-633-7300 for more information or to schedule a no-charge consultation.

Spotlight: Nissa Fougner, Rehab Therapies

We all have days when we don’t feel motivated or just can’t get going on a project. We’ve all felt sluggish and tired, or maybe even <gasp> a little cranky. Some people are far less obvious about this than others. We know they must have bad days, too, but we can’t tell when it happens. Think about the people you know. There’s probably someone who never seems down and out, and who always has a smile and a little pep in her step. For HealthStar Corporate, this is Nissa Fougner. She is a ray of sunshine from morning till closing time. Quick to smile and always full of energy, she flits to and fro like a healing honey bee, spreading the sweetness of optimism, better health, and rehab plans all along her path.

A little history

Nissa grew up in International Falls, MN. She’s as midwestern as it gets – she has experience giving skating lessons and coaching figure skating. She found a passion for rehab therapy while she was in college at Gustavus. Home care won her heart with the promise of flexibility. Nissa also loves that she gets to see her clients in their own home environment, where she can start making a positive impact right from the first visit. Each client has unique needs as well as a unique situation, and Nissa is proud of the improved quality of life that she helps her clients achieve.

Nissa first worked with HealthStar as a contractor doing therapy case review. After she heard the legend of the HealthStar Potluck, she converted and became one of us! (at least, we think it was the potluck legend…) Nissa has been working in the Corporate office as Director of Rehab Services since February 2018. She is so quiet that a lot of our staff didn’t realize she had moved in until July. Nissa’s favorite thing about HealthStar is the people, because “everyone is so friendly and helpful.” That’s why we call it the HealthStar family! We’re pleased to have Nissa on our team, and we’d like tell you about a few of her amazing skills. Nissa, the HealthStar spotlight’s on you!

The skill to celebrate small victories

So often, we celebrate only after a task is completed, forgetting to celebrate the milestones that pass along the way. Nissa doesn’t let those milestones pass in silence! She has a talent for appreciating and recognizing progress, even small progress, toward big achievements. She breaks down big, challenging goals into smaller, more approachable pieces. There is an old proverb that says, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” By looking at the little steps instead of the miles, Nissa gets people moving! Acknowledging progress along the path makes Nissa an encouraging coach and teacher, and helps her clients to stay motivated even when there is still a long way left to go.

The skill of humility

I haven’t known Nissa for a long time, but I have already learned that she is very modest. She is somewhat reserved, although she can crack a joke or two when she’s feeling feisty. Even when she is given a direct compliment, she half brushes it off and half explains it away. For example, the secret to always looking like you just stepped out of a chic boutique – it’s not “yeah, I know, I’m an amazing shopper,” but instead it’s a laundry tip. Wash your clothes on the cold/gentle cycle, and always line dry.

Nissa takes this same sense of place into the community when she meets with Clients. Meeting her for the first time, you might feel as relaxed as you would with an old friend. She keeps a low profile, and never casts a judgmental glance. Gentle, respectful, and mild-mannered, Nissa makes her mark by smiling us all into a calm and tranquil state of comfort and positivity. After being around Nissa, I challenge you not to feel better than you did before!

The skill to be absolutely adorable

Everything about Nissa says, “I’m safe and friendly.” She’s like the human equivalent of a daisy or a kitten. Corporate staff love to see what she’ll be wearing each day, and we all want to know her secrets to beautiful skin and hair! She always looks put together and approachable; she makes people around her smile just by being there. This combination is fabulous, considering that her goal is motivating the heck out of her Clients! Her easy smile and comfortably classy wardrobe set Nissa’s clients at ease, but all the while she sneakily (and very gently) pushes them to meet and surpass their goals.

But how strong is she?

Nissa has demonstrated her strength while also giving a short lesson on proper form for changing out the Culligan water jug in the Corporate office. By size and weight, the Culligan water jug outranks Nissa two to one. Nissa says, the proper technique for lifting something that’s larger and heavier than you are is to hold it close to the body, lift with your legs, brace your core, and hope that you don’t injure anything important. (ok, ok – she didn’t say the part about not injuring anything important, but I think it should be mentioned.)

She’s not just strong in body. Nissa has great experience in therapies, and she provides wisdom and encouragement to HealthStar’s therapy staff. HealthStar’s rehab therapy program is in great hands!

Put it all together – she’s perfect for Rehab Therapies!

Nissa is like a cool, sparkling stream – strong enough to turn a boulder into a pebble, but gentle and inviting enough for a refreshing soak of legs and feet on a hot day. Like the stream, she doesn’t seek credit or acclaim. She takes pride in helping others reach their goals, knowing that their success is her success as well. HealthStar is stronger (and more charming) with Nissa leading rehab therapies! We are so lucky to have her on our team!

 

Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation

HealthStar Home Health provides culturally-relevant healthcare services to traditionally under-served populations. Our healthcare team serves clients in a number of communities, who benefit from the wide range of healthcare services that we provide, including skilled therapies, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy. Wanting to provide a glimpse into the skilled therapies we offer, today we take a look at physical therapy and rehabilitation and recently caught up with Nissa Fougner, PT, DPT, COS-C, and Director of Rehabilitation at HealthStar, where she is currently working to grow our team of in-house physical therapists.

Skilled therapy visits are often ordered by a physician to assist in the recovery of an illness, injury, surgery or other disabling event. HealthStar Home Health offers in-home therapies through our own team of therapists as well as partnering with outside contract therapists. We work with each client to help keep them safe and active in their own home while creating individualized goals to get you back on the road to recovery.

Physical therapy (PT) is care which is focused on easing pain and helping the individual move independently, perform daily living functions and overall, live an active and fulfilling life in the home. People of all ages may require physical therapy to treat various health conditions or needs, not limited to:

  • Pain relief
  • Improve mobility
  • Recovery from a sports injury
  • Rehabilitation after a stroke, accident or surgery
  • Improve balance to prevent falls
  • Bowel and bladder control
  • Using assistive medical equipment, such as a walker or cane

When a patient has received a referral from a physician for skilled therapy services, HealthStar Home Health works with the patient and knows what discipline is required. A nurse, home health aide or skilled therapist will then visit the patient and create a care calendar depending on the services needed and extent. Each situation is unique and some patients may require different professionals to tend to the patient at different times of the rehabilitation and treatment.

When invited into the home of a patient to provide care, HeathStar Home Health and our professionals understand the need to be respectful of their wishes and environment. This allows us the opportunity to create a positive relationship with our patients. As Fougner says, “Seeing a client in their own home environment allows us to make a positive impact in their care and rehabilitation. The focus of homecare is to improve the client’s quality of life and being able to provide care in the individual’s home allows us to assess the real time picture of the setting so we can offer the best care for each environment.”

The relationship built with each client is an important piece of the care and rehabilitation process. There are some clients who are not able to leave their home due to physical, emotional and mental limitations. Nissa and her team of physical therapy assistants (PTAs), as well as the other skilled therapists who may be involved, are sensitive to each individual’s situation and possible limitations and work with each and every patient with care and respect to ensure a positive impact. Our professionals listen to the patient, gently guide and motivate, and encourage the individual to reach goals throughout their treatment.

HealthStar Home Health understands how overwhelming and challenging it can be to care for a loved one at home and also offer a variety of home health care services to help support your loved one to live a more independent and fulfilling life at home. To learn more about the various skilled nursing, skilled therapies, and mental health services available, visit our website.

With cultural care values as the foundation, our caregivers are able to provide quality service, delivering it with increased awareness and perspective. As we serve our clients and communities, we are motivated by our desire to bring services to everyone in need. Call us today at 651-633-7300 for more information or to schedule a no-charge consultation.

HHH Nissa Fogner2
Nissa Fougner, PT, DPT, COS-C, and Director of Rehabilitation at HealthStar Home Health. She has a certification in Oasis, a comprehensive assessment Medicare data collection tool used for data collection management.

SaveSave

Understanding Glaucoma

Occurring at any age but tends to be more common in older adults and often presenting itself with no warning signs, glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. The Mayo Clinic defines glaucoma as a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, which is vital to good vision, and deteriorates more over time. Often, the damage is caused by an abnormally high pressure in your eye with symptoms so gradual individuals may not realize a change in vision until the condition has reached an advanced stage.

The fluid that normally flows throughout the eye may either over produce or not drain properly which leads to build up. This build up causes increased pressure and cause the optic nerve to gradually deteriorate. Glaucoma is also hereditary. Scientists have identified certain genes in some individuals related to this high pressure and optic nerve damage. There are different types of glaucoma:

  • Open-angle glaucoma:most common form of the disease, the drainage angle remains open, but partially blocked causing a gradual pressure buildup.
  • Angle-closure glaucoma:occurs when full or near full blockage forms and the fluid cannot circulate throughout the eye causing increased pressure.
  • Normal-tension glaucoma:although the eye pressure is within the normal range, the optic nerve still becomes damaged, possibly due to optic nerve sensitivity or a lower blood supply to this area.
  • Adolescent glaucoma:with some, glaucoma may be present at birth or developed early in life, typically caused by drainage issues or other medical condition.
  • Pigmentary glaucoma:with this type of glaucoma, pigment particles from the iris build up in the drainage area which causes the fluid to not drain properly and leads to increased pressure.

Glaucoma, if left untreated, will eventually lead to blindness. But, even with treatment, approximately 15 percent of individuals with glaucoma will become blind in one or both eyes. Depending on the stage of your condition, the signs and symptoms of the different types of glaucoma will vary. For example:

Open-angle glaucoma

  • You will experience blind spots in your peripheral or central vision, typically in both eyes.
  • You will experience tunnel vision with advanced stages.

Acute angle-closure glaucoma

  • You will experience blurred vision.
  • You will experience nausea and vomiting.
  • You will experience severe headaches.
  • You will experience halos around lights.
  • You will experience eye pain and redness.

Annual eye exams are key to early detection but contact an ophthalmologist immediately if experiencing symptoms such as severe headaches, blurred vision and eye pain. Glaucoma may not be preventable, but following these steps may allow for early detection, limited vision loss or even slowing the progress of the disease:

  • Regular eye care
  • Knowing the family’s health history
  • Exercise moderately
  • Use prescribed eye drops
  • Wear eye protection

HealthStar Home Health understands how overwhelming and challenging it can be to care for a loved one at home and offers a variety of home health care services to help support your loved one to live more independently in their own home. With services such as life and health management, mental health, home health and home help, we at HealthStar Home Health help make families and communities strong by enabling individuals of all ages to live longer, more independent and fulfilling lives. To learn more about the various mental health and behavioral health services we offer, visit our website.

With cultural care values as the foundation, our caregivers are able to provide quality service, delivering it with increased awareness and perspective. As we serve our clients and communities, we are motivated by our desire to bring services to everyone in need. Call us today at 651-633-7300 for more information or to schedule a no-charge consultation.

24ECC program: Building the HealthStar Family

HealthStar’s 24ECC program is different than other Corporate “touchy-feely” programs.

Many companies search for ways to increase cultural competency and employee engagement, but very few truly succeed. With the 24ECC program, HealthStar has nailed it.

Developing the 24ECC program

In 2009, HealthStar invited clients and community members to participate in focus groups tasked with identifying the qualities of good caregivers. These result: a long list of ideal characteristics for caregivers, providing great insight into HealthStar’s culturally diverse client base.

HealthStar then narrowed the focus group’s list to twenty-four crucial elements. The new 24 Expressions of Company Culture, or ECCs, fit nicely within the categories of HealthStar’s top four core values: Servant Leadership, Empathy, Altruism, and Integrity. Almost 10-years later, and the 24ECC program still lives on!

24ECCs in action

Each month, 24ECC trainers identify one of the 24ECC values to highlight. They design activities that help staff to discuss and dig deeper into the importance and impact of the chosen value. Through these activities and discussions, we gain a better understanding of the ideals that our Clients identified. We also examine the cultural differences in how values are expressed or perceived. The same values are often interpreted very differently depending on cultural background!

What the 24ECCs do for our team

One of the unexpected benefits of the 24ECCs is that they provide a tool to better understand and communicate with team members. The 24ECC program is a constant reminder that even though someone may do things differently, that doesn’t make it wrong! We learn balance – if you do too much of one value, you might end up not representing other values which are equally important. In conflict, the 24ECCs guide us to consider each other’s point of view without judging or jumping to conclusions. We use the 24ECCs as consistent language to express ourselves, and to discuss and work through concerns.

But for me, the best part is getting together once a month to get to know each other through a new 24ECC activity. I love the creative ideas that our 24ECC planners come up with! 24ECC Bingo, collage making, skits, and gift baskets – and sometimes a 24ECC snack. When we build a team that communicates and has fun together, we also develop something more than just a place where people go to complete tasks.

What 24ECC “Work Love” can do for you

HealthStar is more than a group of people who work together. We are a team that supports each other and truly cares about each other.  We are a work family, spread across three states. HealthStar people get excited to see each other at quarterly meetings – it’s like family coming to visit, including the cooking, the hugging, and the chatting.

Best of all, when HealthStar needs to get a project done, we all jump in and do what we can. We appreciate and capitalize on the things that make us different, because we know that’s part of building a great team! By fostering this Work Love relationship in our offices, we automatically extend the same level of care to our Clients. It’s not always easy, but with the 24ECCs, we have the foundation to build on. It is a great base to support great care!

Check out our website for more information about this program and how it helps us provide the best possible care!

 

Protecting Your Personal Information

I don’t have a lot of fears. I do have plenty of things that I worry about – will we ever get the kids to bed on time, what are we having for dinner, when can we take a real vacation that doesn’t involve visiting extended family… not that I don’t love my extended family, but it would be great to do something really special, just with my husband and kids, right? But none of this worry really gets me in a cold sweat. It’s more like a constant white noise going on in my mind. What does freak me out is the threat of cyber-crime. The thought that someone could get hold of my personal information and use it to impersonate me, or ransom it back to me for a price – now, that’s a scary one. Or worse, the thought that someone will trick one of my loved ones into giving them private information, and we won’t find out about it until it’s too late. I worry about that a lot, for my own family and for HealthStar’s Client base, too. So, what do I do to protect myself? Below are a few key steps that I have taken. You can do these things too, and please help any potentially vulnerable family members or community members if you have the opportunity. Sometimes, we need a little help to achieve safer and more secure private information.

 

  1. Use unique, strong passphrases for sites with sensitive information, and for your email account. Using the same password or passphrase across accounts makes it easier for bad guys to get access to multiple different sites. Most accounts use an email address as an option for a username. Once the bad guy has your email address and even one correct password, any accounts using that combination for access are at risk. Be especially careful with email account passwords, as unauthorized access to your email could add up to a big problem. For example, if I gain access to your email account, and I know you bank at Wells Fargo, I can use your email address to reset your bank password, check your email for the password reset, and then use the new password that I assigned to sign into your bank account. For information about password security, see the links at the end of this article – generally, you should choose a unique passphrase made up of several words or numbers, that isn’t easy to guess, and that isn’t in the top list of compromised passwords. For example, TrollRainbow1946Homerun. There isn’t enough word space here to get into the nitty gritty details of choosing a secure password, but choosing something along these lines will make it harder to guess, harder to hack, and might also help you choose something you can actually spell and remember. If a bad guy still gets your password, further issues can be prevented if you:
  2. Use multi-factor authentication wherever possible, especially on sensitive accounts. Multi-factor authentication is just a fancy way of saying you’ll be required to use more than one method to show that you are the owner of the account you’re accessing. For example, with my email, I have the account set to always require a second access code. I’ll sign in with my usual email address and password, and then the system will send a numeric code to my cell phone. I’m required to enter that cell phone code to complete the login. This method proves that I have access to a specific physical device, as well as access to the account password. The second access code could be a security question, a phone call that speaks a code, or an email sent to a secondary account. Using the secondary access code requiring you to have a specific device, like your cell phone, is very secure, because it’s possible someone could have unauthorized access to a second email account or could guess a secret question’s answer.
  3. Don’t sign in to unsecured networks. Wait, am I telling you not to use the popular “free wi-fi” available at so many businesses? YES. If you’re doing something that you don’t want broadcast to the bad guys, like banking, paying with a credit card, or checking your email, then don’t do it on these networks. It is too easy for someone to set up a fake second network that looks like the name of the business, and then you unwittingly sign on to the fake network, where the fake broadcaster (aka bad guy) will grab whatever you’re doing. If you’re just browsing the internet, it’s probably fine, but any personal information could be potentially picked up, so be wary.
  4. Don’t open email you aren’t expecting. Examples shown in computer training are usually overstated and obvious, but email scams can be surprisingly hard to identify. Be cautious of any email that you weren’t expecting, and don’t click on links in email or provide any personal information through an email link. For example, some popular scams copy the look of communication from banks, telling you there is a problem with your account. Instead of clicking on the link in the email, or calling the number in the email, any issue can be verified by calling your bank at the number on your card or visiting the bank’s website through a web search, NOT through the link on the email. Links in scam emails can lead to fake sites, which will collect any information you enter, possibly leading to identity theft or unauthorized access to your bank accounts or other private accounts. Also, be suspicious of poorly written email, or anything that sounds too good to be true.
  5. Be cautious of posting personal information on social media. Personally, I don’t post on social media, but I know that puts me in the minority, and possibly makes me seem overly paranoid. Lots of people are accepting of the “big brother” type intrusions that come with social media, but may not be very informed about the far-reaching implications. Information that you post is being collected in huge quantities, and you don’t always know who is at the end of that collection, or what kind of security is being applied to your personal information. Posting private information on social media can also be an invitation to criminals. Posting about a vacation? Sounds like a good time to stop by and break into your house. Posting about a new job? Sounds like a good opportunity for a LinkedIn or job hunting scam. There are very savvy criminals out there, and the less information we make available to them, the safer we will be. I’m not saying don’t use social media at all, but I do think we should all be aware that anything we post is available to both good guys and not-so-good guys, so post accordingly.
  6. Watch out for fake IT support pop-ups or phone calls. There are lots of these – you’ll get a phone call from “Microsoft” saying they need to access your computer for service. Or you might see a pop-up that says something about your computer needing support/service, or “your computer has a virus!” with a phone number for support. Once you’re on the phone, the “tech” will ask you to allow remote access to your computer, and then he or she can (here’s the bad part) copy the computer’s entire contents, or can encrypt and hold the encryption password hostage for a price, locking you out of your own data. Once you’re in this situation, there is no fix, unless you:
  7. Keep a backup of your computer, or at least back up your critical files. If you have a good backup, then you can always take your computer off the network if you get into a situation like the one above. Then, you can restore from your backup file once you’re offline. This doesn’t help save you from identity theft if the person was able to copy your computer’s contents, but it will help if your computer contents are being encrypted. Backing up sounds intimidating, but many computers have an automatic backup that can be set up, or you can back up by simply copying files to an external hard drive. An external hard drive might cost in the ballpark of $50 to $150 depending on the size – a small investment for how much trouble it might save if you lose everything! You can also use an online backup service. There are many reputable computer techs who could help with this without taking much time, which leads me to my final tip:
  8. Find a local tech that you can trust, and get comfortable with him or her. We rely on our technology for almost everything, so down time will be painful and potentially costly. Like a financial advisor or trusted auto mechanic, it is great when you already know someone you can trust when an issue with your personal technology comes up! There are lots of computer techs available to help people who aren’t comfortable with in-depth computer setup or maintenance. If you can maintain a relationship with a tech you can trust, it will be that much easier to recover in the event of a catastrophe, and it’s always nice to get advice from an expert. I have lots of backup to help me do my job, and I know I wouldn’t get much sleep if I wasn’t able to ask an expert for help when I need it!

If this article helps even one person keep his or her information safe and private, I’ll be pleased. There are so many people just waiting for the opportunity to sneak, steal, and destroy just to get ahead. Let’s help our vulnerable population stay out of harm’s way – tell the ones you care about to keep their private information safe!

-Beth Taylor, IT Manager
HealthStar Home Health

 

 

Want to learn more? Check out the below articles!

https://hbr.org/2017/05/why-you-really-need-to-stop-using-public-wi-fi

https://www.howtogeek.com/178696/why-using-a-public-wi-fi-network-can-be-dangerous-even-when-accessing-encrypted-websites/

https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/current-activity/2018/03/27/Creating-and-Managing-Strong-Passwords

https://techspective.net/2018/05/23/10-best-practices-to-secure-and-protect-passwords/

https://haveibeenpwned.com/

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/dec/24/cybercrime-2015-cybersecurity-ransomware-cyberwar

https://www.lifewire.com/i-just-fell-for-a-pc-support-scam-now-what-2487799

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0346-tech-support-scams

https://www.howtogeek.com/242428/whats-the-best-way-to-back-up-my-computer/

https://www.cnet.com/how-to/easiest-ways-to-backup-your-files/

https://www.acronis.com/en-us/

https://www.sec.gov/reportspubs/investor-publications/investorpubsphishinghtm.html

https://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-reasons-why-i-avoid-social-networking-services/

http://www.businessinsider.com/i-quit-social-media-for-one-month-it-changed-my-life-facebook-instagram-snapchat-twitter-millennial-2018-1

 

 

 

What It’s Like to Work in Home Care

I have been working at HealthStar for more than 9 years. I didn’t set out to work here that long, but I’m happy that it has turned out this way. I am part of a great team – we are so close it feels like a family. I enjoy working with some of the most caring and compassionate people around. We have a lot of fun in the office; we do all kinds of different activities from egg hunts to potlucks to office bingo. But best of all, I know that every day when I come to work, I can help someone who is in direct contact with our Clients. In my small way, through that connection, I’m helping someone remain in the community and receive quality care in the comfort of his or her own home.

On my most challenging and frustrating days, it is still fabulous to feel that all my hard work is helping someone who really needs and appreciates that help. Working here keeps my days in perspective – the challenges that I might face are trivial when compared to the challenges faced by someone who needs help just getting out of bed or making it to the store. I love to hear stories from our branch offices about the successes they experience with Clients and field staff; it is so touching to learn the different ways that we become like extended family, especially to long-term Clients. The knowledge that I can keep this all moving, and that I am a critical piece of the support team for these Clients, keeps me going through the toughest days! I never want to be the one who prevents someone from providing the best possible care to our Clients!

The best part about working at HealthStar is that I am surrounded by truly caring staff, who are motivated by Client successes, and who understand and appreciate what others around them are doing to accomplish the same goals. There is very little drama, which is extremely rare in an office environment! We are all focused on the task at hand, making sure that all the foundation work is in place so that our direct care staff can provide great care!

Our 24ECC program gives us all a common language when we feel we are not seeing eye to eye, or when days get hectic. We are good at supporting each other; we learn about each other and find ways to show our teammates that we care about them. It’s very common to hear people talking about their frustrations openly, both personal and work-related, or to hear teams discussing what could be done to improve processes and communication. We say a lot of Thank You’s, and we even try to sit together at lunch, so that we can take a few minutes together out of work mode, just to appreciate each other’s company.

I love it that when I walk in the door at work, I feel I’m in a safe place. I can rely on the support of others when I have a hard day, and I can lend my own strength and compassion when I see someone struggling. It is an awesome place to learn, grow, and even sometimes play, and I am pleased to say that I am still here, learning something new many times each day!

Want to join the HealthStar Home Health team? Check out our current job openings and apply today!

-Beth Taylor
It Manager, HealthStar Home Health