Spotlight: Jessica Downs, Clinical Operations

HealthStar’s Corporate team is a very diverse mix of all walks of life. Today, we are nurses (like Jessica), medical billers, and office support staff. But many winding paths have converged to bring this team together. With history in auto maintenance, real estate, finance, marketing, teaching, and even some folks who moved to the continental US from abroad, we really keep things interesting!

We are all problem solvers in one way or another, but the thing that really brings us together is our love of caring for others. We may not be direct, hands-on care staff, but we show our helping hands in other ways. There are lots of treats and shared meals, plenty of “feelings Friday” discussions where we show our support for each other, and lots of inside jokes. There are no cliques – we all get along. No, seriously! It’s not always easy, but because we truly care about each other, we give each other grace and try to understand where others are in their own unique battles.

As awesome as Corporate is, if you really want to see what makes HealthStar shine, what sets us apart, and what we are all working for every day – you’ll need to look outside our colorful and multi-angled Corporate walls. Look out into “the field,” where the rubber meets the road. Can you see our clinicians, our practitioners, and our front-line caregiving staff? Maybe you also see our service office locations and some of our Clients – they’re the reason Corporate exists! We work to serve, and we work hard to make sure that we serve well!

Who else do you see?

While you’re looking out there, do you see a blonde? Not just any blonde, but a blonde who really OWNS IT? Maybe you see her climbing out of a big pickup truck with her hair flowing in the wind. Her broad, radiant, feel-good smile touches everyone she walks past. That blonde hair is a statement, and the shoes and smile are the exclamation point. Her red shoes reflect her true passion – love for all people, and a strong desire to take care of those who need it. Watch out, now – she’s a hugger, but her hug melts your worries away and leaves you feeling lighter. Just who is this happy, high-heeled hugger, you ask? I’m proud to say, this bright and bubbly blonde is Jessica “Jess” Downs, HealthStar’s Director of Clinical Operations.

Talk about winding roads to HealthStar Corporate – prior to her decision to become an RN, Jessica had worked as a CNA in HealthStar’s Duluth office. Jess even once considered becoming an attorney! We’re sure glad she didn’t go that route. Instead, while working as a CNA in a nursing home, Jess was encouraged by a mentor to pursue a career in nursing and decided to give it a try.

What a great fit for her caring personality! After getting her degree, Jessica’s career in nursing kicked off in her home town of Duluth, MN, working in a surgical center and hospital. She later worked in Wisconsin, Nevada, California, and Arizona, in a variety of clinical roles including corrections nurse, hospice case manager, and Director of Nursing. Then, in 2014, Jessica’s winding road led her full-circle right back to HealthStar. Some things are just meant to be! Because we are in the “month of love,” we thought it would be a great time to tell you a little more about Jessica and her big-hearted ways. Jessica Downs, the HealthStar spotlight is on you!

Happiness is contagious

One of the first things that I noticed about Jessica is that she always seems So Happy. It’s an overwhelming happiness, like I imagine it would be if everyone’s Facebook self was real. She projects positivity and happiness into the world in front of her, like a blinding pink tractor beam, daring sadness to cross its path. If ethereal auras were visible, Jessica’s would be pink and fuzzy, and it would probably sparkle in the sunlight.

Cass Lake 2018 Holiday Party.
Left to Right: Barb J, Michelle C, Julie S, Jessica D, Jean B.

Her happiness is wonderful in meetings, which are otherwise often dull and boring. Jess has a great laugh, bursting straight out of her heart; it is the glorious sound of freedom, a bird’s song of warm sunshine and wind ruffling his feathers as he soars through the open sky. Try to be stressed and frustrated in front of Jessica, I dare you. When you start to explain your problems, they suddenly won’t seem so bad any more. She’ll tell you “it’s OK, we’ll get through it.” And, poof – she’s right. It’s that simple. We will get through it.

Shine on, Jessica!

It’s easy to understand Jessica’s success in hospice, and as a nurse in general. A ray of sunshine in a cloudy and often difficult time, she’s exactly the type of personality to lift everyone’s spirits. Picture her sweet-talking her patients and showing them there’s nothing else that matters in the world. To Jessica, that’s the truth! She loves our HealthStar clients and pours her heart and soul into making sure that our team has the tools to deliver the best possible care!

While similar care is provided in both hospice and home care, there is a much more personal aspect to home care, because of the need for service to be provided in the Client’s living space. Jess has a great understanding of what this means to Clients. She expresses gratitude and compassion toward HealthStar’s Clients and says that she is honored to be invited into their homes. Her humility and friendliness help set Clients at ease.

Flexibility, much?

Some things are critical to a successful career at HealthStar. A sense of humor, I say. A love of food? Probably. The gift of patience? Can’t hurt. How about the ability to roll with the punches, to re-prioritize when a target shifts, or to “be the willow,” as our long-time employee Cathy Rivas-Carballo says. In my opinion, this is critical. HealthStar staff have an informal motto: “Give it a minute, things will change!”

Cass Lake 2018 Holiday Party.
Left to Right: Michelle C, Karen M, Jean B, Jessica D, Julie S.

Why is flexibility important? Take Jessica’s HealthStar history as an example. In her RN role, she started at HealthStar shortly after our transition from PCA/HMK agency to Medicare-certified agency. In the time Jess has been with us, the layout, structure, and focus of HealthStar’s branch offices, the organizational chart, and even our office addresses have changed. We have added and subtracted service offerings, and we have changed software programs many, many times. Staff have come and gone, sometimes more than once. (We joke about a revolving door. In a good way!) Throughout all these changes, Jess and the rest of our Corporate staff have flexed and sometimes flailed in the wind, but with flexibility on our side, we haven’t broken. We almost never make jokes about having a new priority. Instead, we come together as a team, again and again, and figure out how to continue.

But wait, there’s more…

Jess has also ridden the wave of change in her personal journey at HealthStar. Not including her time as CNA, Jessica first worked at Corporate, transferred to Duluth, transferred back to Corporate, and now lives in the Duluth/Cloquet area but still represents the Corporate office. Wait, what? Don’t worry about the details; the moral of the story is, she’s plenty flexible, and she goes with the flow. Jessica’s humility and “true to your roots” attitude make her approachable, and she always talks us down off the branches when things get a little too windy in that willow tree.

Open heart, open mind

Something that not everyone may know about Jessica is that, in addition to being an RN, she embraces a very unique skill set of healing. She is a Certified Level II Reiki Practitioner and says that blending western medicine and alternative medicine helps her to treat people holistically. Reiki has been around for thousands of years and is sometimes called “the laying of hands.” In practice, Reiki focuses on the transfer of healing energy from practitioner to patient, to revitalize the healing energy in the patient.

Maybe this explains why Jess has such grace and love for all of us – by sensing the energy around her, she sees more than just a single facet of a person, giving her a greater understanding of what makes us all tick. By keeping an open mind, and trying something different, Jessica is bringing a new perspective to HealthStar. There is something different about Jessica, and maybe this explains a little bit of that difference. There’s a lot that we can’t fully understand, but instead of dismissing those things, Jessica has embraced possibility and puts healing energy to great use.

But what about those shoes?

Yes, Jessica has some of the cutest shoes that I’ve ever seen. With my big clompers, I won’t be wearing anything like her shoe wardrobe. She’s not shoe crazy, she just has good taste. I know, this is four things, and usually I only do three, but this one is short. Great shoes. Hardly counts as a fourth.

By the way, Jess – how do you drive that big pickup truck with those fashion forward shoes on? And do you still wear heels when you go ice fishing?

Thanks for the positivity!

Corporate is lucky to have Jessica’s happiness, positivity, flexibility, and open mind on our side. Her love of HealthStar’s Clients shines through in every meeting. She is absolutely a strong advocate and spokesperson for the Client’s perspective and needs in receiving care. Jessica has brought a wonderful attitude of love and acceptance to HealthStar Corporate, and she has extended that attitude to the branch offices and to all of our Clients. We can’t wait to show you the benefits of this sense of love and caring!

Spotlight: Cristina Hernandez, TC Skilled

Checking her list

Turn the computer on, then check in with “the boss,” Deb Allen in Twin Cities Skilled. Another check-in with “the other boss,” Donna Smith in HR. Pull up Outlook and check Tim’s schedule. Check Barb’s schedule. Make sure there’s enough paper, water, plastic silverware, pens, and post-its. Check the main fax. Sit down and check Corporate voicemail. Check email. Look for IT inventory to check in or check out. How much checking can one person do in a day! And it’s only been 15 minutes.

This is the beginning of a typical weekday for Cristina Hernandez, Office Assistant at HealthStar’s Corporate and Twin Cities Skilled office. She keeps us all organized, on-time, and well-stocked with legal pads. She has a great sense of humor and loves practical jokes, but be warned; if you pick on her way of eating fried rice, one grain at a time while picking all of the vegetables out, you might upset her. She does have her sensitive side.

A little history

Cristina started at HealthStar in June of 2015. She worked as a HMK/HHA/PCA for the Minneapolis South office on Franklin, and she provided administrative support to the office between visits. In October of the same year, she applied for a position at the Corporate office. Corporate snapped her up before the ink dried on her application.

Cristina has been a great addition to the Corporate team, and is now working most often with the Twin Cities Skilled team. There is a lot to love about Cristina; just ask her. She’s not shy about her talents and will tell you the same. She has three unique and special talents, though, that make her really stand out from the crowd. Cristina, the HealthStar Spotlight’s on you! Let’s see what makes you shine!

Love yourself, first!

Cristina is very confident and self-assured. This makes her a great fit at the front desk, because she doesn’t shy away from meeting new people, and she is very comfortable in new situations. Cristina easily befriends any person in her path. She is charismatic and speaks her mind, but her sense of humor and kindness help to temper her strong personality.

Cristina can liven up a dark day, and she uses that skill to help motivate the Corporate and Skilled teams, from the lowest member right up to the very top. We have all witnessed the effect of her motivational skills on Tim Lively (owner/CEO). Only Barb Jezorski, Executive Director, can compete with Cristina when it comes to motivating power. When Barb and Cristina combine forces, Tim stays on schedule, on time, and on target! Corporate staff love it, because without Cristina, we wind up playing “oh where oh where has my boss’s boss gone.” It’s a lovely tune, but when you’re trying to plan your day, it can be a challenge. We like Cristina’s way much better.

Tell us a story

My personal favorite thing about Cristina is that she is an amazing source of information about Latino culture, and she’s a captivating storyteller. It is fun to learn about her Puerto-Rican background! I love when she tells us about the sights, the smells, and the sounds of Puerto Rico. I especially like learning about the food that Cristina’s family used to cook for her when she was growing up. Cristina is also willing to give me tips about speaking Spanish. She’s not afraid to correct my grammar or pronunciation (she’s brutally honest, have I mentioned that?). I have also learned this very important lesson from Cristina: just because two people might both speak Spanish, they don’t necessarily speak it the same way, or share the same cultural background. It is very interesting to learn of the many differences between Spanish-speaking cultures!

Cristina sometimes provides backup to the lovely and talented Nilda Garcia, Program Manager of Sagrado Corazón. Thank goodness for them both, because according to Cristina, my Spanish skills are not quite ready for prime time. HealthStar’s Spanish-speaking Clients might not be as patient as Nilda and Cristina when I take 5 minutes to think of the right word for Cucumber. (By the way, Concombre is French, not Spanish. You can guess who corrected me on that…)

But how are you feeling, really?

This is a special skill that I really admire in Cristina. She knows how to read people. She can be the most caring and patient person, if that’s what you need her to be. But in a heartbeat, she can turn on a fiery personality and liven things up with her high energy and flair. She takes the time to really listen to our Clients’ needs, making each Client feel like there is nothing else going on in the world. Clients would never know that she is also being pulled by multiple departments to help with their workloads. Cristina’s honest and open communication style sets people at ease in difficult situations. Most of all, she is passionate about meeting our Clients’ needs, whether it means translating at visits, providing direct care with grace and a gentle touch, or just listening and being compassionate when someone calls with an issue.

Family Connections

Some fun facts about Cristina’s family: Cristina’s mom, Marisol, has also worked at HealthStar. She provided HHA service out of the Minneapolis South office starting in 2011, and she reigned supreme as temporary queen of Corporate file retention in 2018. She is our favorite employee mom, because she makes the most amazing cakes. We miss you, Marisol – please come and visit soon!

There is another family connection, too. Cristina’s first experience with home care was when her brother, Jomar, received home care services through another agency. This was several years before Cristina joined HealthStar, and showed Cristina the impact that home care services make! Growing up with Jomar, with her family supporting his unique needs, Cristina developed the patience and compassion that make her such a great fit at HealthStar. Jomar is doing great and now lives in his own place. We all joined Cristina in celebrating his increasing independence, and we always enjoy hearing about his progress!

HealthStar Needs You, Cristina!

Corporate wouldn’t be the same without Cristina. I know, because I was here before she joined the team. It was a dark time, and we certainly don’t want to go back! Cristina has big shoes to fill, but the great thing is, she has big feet, so we never have to worry. She handles all her tasks with determination, and she keeps her sense of humor handy when things get tough. She’s a critical piece of the Corporate team!

Want to know more about what it’s like to work at Corporate? Check out our other articles and see which positions we’re hiring for today!

Footnote:

After reviewing this article, Cristina was disappointed that I didn’t discuss her amazing video editing skills. This is a unique talent, but it doesn’t seem to fit into any of the three very personal talent areas that I have clearly outlined above. Instead of adding a fourth talent category just for video editing, I told her that I would add a footnote. Cristina, I sincerely hope that you are now satisfied with this article. I don’t want to upset you, like that time I picked on your rice eating style.

Do You Want to Make a Difference in a Senior’s Life? Join Our Team!

A caregiver is someone who helps another individual with activities of daily living (ALDs). ALDs are considered daily basic self-care tasks, such as getting dressed, grooming, eating, and transferring. Working as a caregiver can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Do you have a caring touch and a loving personality with a passion for health and wellness? If so, you just might be a perfect fit for the HealthStar Home Health team!

Watch this short video and hear what some of our employees have to say about working in the caregiving field and for HealthStar Home Health.

Some caregivers may also assist with meal preparation, shopping/errands, medication management, social support or light housekeeping. Common types of caregivers include:

    • Personal Care Assistants (PCA)
    • Home Health Aides (HHA)
    • Homemakers (HMK)

HealthStar Home Health recognizes that as the senior population ages, an increasing number of Minnesota families will be tasked with caring for their aging parents as well as caring for their own family and working a full-time job. This age group is commonly referred to as the “sandwich” generation, and will feel overwhelmed when their daily job, family commitments, and the duties of caring for their aging loved ones are all factored in. This type of situation is creating the fast-growing need for various healthcare jobs, including personal care assistants.

Recent reporting from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that healthcare jobs and industries are expected to have the fastest employment growth and will add the most jobs to the workforce between 2016 and 2026. We are currently in the heart of that decade growth period.

The culture and training offered by HealthStar Home Health contributes to the success and satisfaction of our employees. If you’re interested in being part of the fastest growing employment industry, then consider becoming a caregiver with HealthStar Home Health. We offer paid training for individuals interested in becoming a PCA, HHA or HMK. You must be able to pass a background check, and have a reliable source of transportation. This career offers flexibility to set your own schedule and number of hours, while meeting the client’s needs.

Community-based care is the hallmark of our work. Our community-based approach to reducing health disparities is based on the premise that the causes of poor health include factors related to the social, economic and physical environment of a community. HealthStar proudly serves clients in a number of cities in Minnesota, including the Duluth, Bemidji, and Twin Cities area, as well as New Mexico and Arizona.

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 a more independent and fulfilling life at home. One unique care program we offer, the Alzheimer’s Whisperer program, takes an effective approach to support those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and their family. To learn more about the skilled nursing and therapies, and mental health services available, as well as the cultural initiatives we offer, visit our website.

Choosing home health care services shouldn’t involve settling for care that doesn’t support 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: Holly Eide, AZ/NM

It’s that time of year again. I sit at my desk, surrounded by white noise and plagued by static cling. My humidifier is straining to compete with the drying effect of my space heater, and I’m caught in the middle, coated in a thick layer of chap-stick and hand lotion, like an electrically-charged paper maché statue of myself. Yes, there are great things about winter. Sledding, holiday decorations, warm apple cider, and a cozy fire in the fireplace are all wonderful at times. But this is also the time of year when a few sneaky jealous thoughts might creep in toward Holly Eide, Area Manager of our HealthStar/Circle of Life Home Care offices to the south (WAY south) in Gallup, New Mexico and in Casa Grande, Arizona. Our Circle of Life Home Care snowbird manager is lucky to find herself in the land where weather-wise Northland retirees find gentler temperatures for their winter months.

Holly knows what the weather is like up north and down south. She started with HealthStar in MN in 2010, and then transplanted down to AZ in fall of 2016. This holiday season, as we celebrate Holly’s 8th year with HealthStar, we thought it would be a great time to learn a little bit more about her!

A little history

Holly has seen so many changes at HealthStar since she first started, and her background is as full of changes as her time with HealthStar has been. From court reporter, to stock market, to owner of an indoor park – which do you think gave Holly the most applicable experience for HealthStar? If you’ve guessed indoor park, you are correct! HealthStar is a lot like an indoor park some days, which is why we must remember to slow down in the corners and keep our chins tucked – we don’t want any bonked heads!

Holly Eide and Daniel Roebuck at the His Neighbor Phil premier party

After testing the waters in the billing department, Holly sprang into action mode when HealthStar needed a manager for its second Minneapolis office. From there, Holly made a bold and daring move to Arizona, where she is currently watching another new office take flight. She is our official HealthStar/AZ Circle of Life snow bird, although she is much younger than the traditional snow bird, and she rarely returns to the land of 10,000 lakes these days. Holly also watches over the Gallup Circle of Life office, so between those two warm states, she keeps plenty busy! Let’s find out more about what makes Holly tick – here are three things that I’d love to share about Holly. Holly, the HealthStar spotlight’s on you!

Sense of humor

Holly has been known to pull a prank now and then. Her signature move is the “gift of condiment” where she’ll sneak a salt or pepper shaker into your purse when you’re not looking. Really, I think she’s just being considerate – who couldn’t use a little extra spice? There’s less opportunity for these “gifts” with Holly several states south of Corporate, but she knows how to use the mail! Every package has a special item to give Corporate a laugh. Corporate knows how to use the mail, too – sometimes Holly gets a package full of glitter, or a box of 500 stress balls when things get really tough.

Holly Eide presenting Normal Aging vs. Dementia

Holly has been around long enough to have a bunch of tales to tell about “the old days” at HealthStar – if you ask her, you’re sure to have a chuckle! Ask her about the “just fired” car wrapped in saran wrap, or the Motel 8 ice bucket shipped lovingly to Katie Wagner at Corporate. She can tell you about the HealthStar Harlem Shake, ripped pants, eating doughnuts off strings, and the great 24ECC glitterbomb of 2017. Together, we took the Corporate office by storm during the office Olympics in 2012, and we witnessed the yoga planking craze later that year. Even from afar, Holly continues to make things a little lighter in our offices, helping us remember not to take things too seriously, and giving us plenty of memories to smile about.

Positivity

Ever need someone to help you look at the bright side of things when you’re feeling down? Holly is the one for the job! She sees the best in people and isn’t afraid to say it. Her optimism is contagious and helps to keep everyone around her moving! Holly doesn’t get bogged down when things are frustrating – she keeps on pushing toward the goal and has the vision of success in mind. Determination is key for Holly! Knowing it will be tough just makes her drive even harder for success. Competitive? You bet, but it’s all for a good cause. Well, I suppose for fun, too. Can’t forget about fun.

Holly Eide, Connie Stone, and Shannon Mackenzie at the MN State Fair one year later after discovering a lemon-sized brain tumor

One of the highlights that Holly has had with HealthStar was the time she spent working on HealthStar’s MN State Fair memory screenings. It was a huge undertaking, planning a booth and getting everything in place to complete memory screenings there. But Holly’s determination, and her belief in the project, got the team on board. The high point of the screenings was in 2016, with a very special visit from a woman who had failed a screen in 2015. It turned out that she had a lemon-sized brain tumor! Luckily, after the failed screen, she was instructed to see her doctor and followed through on that advice! Holly is still driven by this story today – she knows that this is the difference HealthStar can make in the lives of those we touch.

A Rolling Stone

If there’s one absolute truth I have learned about Holly over these years, it is that she Never. Stops. Moving. She is a true rolling stone, and she has gathered no moss. She thrives in an ever-changing environment, and she doesn’t back down from a challenge. Remember all the twists and turns from her business-life? Well, she doesn’t just take those corners at work – she’s also a wild and crazy careening force in her home life. She’s got 2 kiddos, both busy in sports (ask her about her hockey daughter and the Olympics!). At 34, she decided to take up BMX biking. She once competed in a bodybuilding event with her husband (remember the tan?).

What will Holly do next?

After 8 years of wild and crazy HealthStar adventures, Holly is still going strong in Arizona. During the winter months, she gets to watch the great migration of the northern SnowBird! How many retirees spend winter in Arizona each year? Thousands, and Holly wants to know how HealthStar can help! A busy Holly is a happy Holly, so let her know what she can do for your better health if you’re visiting the southern states during these cold winter months. You might just inspire the next great Holly Eide adventure!

Circle of Life Home Care

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 programs offer services that address the unique needs of populations such as African Immigrant, African American, Native American, Hispanic/Latino, and other communities. This month we caught up with Holly Eide, Circle of Life Home Care’s Area Manager to learn more about this particular initiative and the Native Americans they serve.

Circle of Life Home Care is a home health care initiative offering personal health care services in the ten-county area of northwestern New Mexico, and the newly opened office in Casa Grande, Arizona. Following in the footsteps of the First Nations Home Health initiative which serves the Native populations in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro and greater Minnesota area, in 2009 HealthStar Home Health opened a second office committed to providing culturally sensitive care to the Navajo tribal members both on and off the Reservations.

col_342x342Circle of Life Home Care offers services which are specifically designed to enhance the health and well-being of Native American individuals. The New Mexico office is a short distance from the Navajo nation, which has about 330,000 members. This is the second largest tribal population nationwide, the largest being the Cherokee tribe. All the employees in our New Mexico office are Navajo-speaking and are members of the tribe themselves.

Since treating through our First Nations and Circle of Life Home Care initiatives, we have discovered common health issues amongst the Native American population. We see a higher population of Type 2 diabetes, which cause disabilities or a need for transfusions for some. Most individuals we care for in our Circle of Life Home Care initiative are elderly (age 65+) and many still live in a Hogan which have no flooring, no running water and are heated by a wood stove. A Hogan is a traditional Navajo hut made out of wood particles or clay. Others may live on the Reservation, or in a trailer home, while others live in neighborhoods near the Reservation.

When invited into the home of a patient to provide care, HealthStar Home Health and our professionals understand the need to be respectful of their wishes and environment. Our team of professionals works with the patient to provide the non-medical care they need. Our personal caregivers can offer reminders for medication, grooming, bathing, housekeeping and laundry services, and accompany to appointments. The client coordinators work with the caregivers through supervision, training and follow up with the clients to ensure the proper services are being provided. If there is a need for skilled therapies, such as physical therapy or occupational therapy, we work with other professionals to refer those services. Some clients may wish to use traditional medicines or request to work with a medicine man vs modern medicine and in those cases, HealthStar still respects their wishes.

At the Casa Grande, Arizona location, (which celebrated their 1-year anniversary in October 2018!), the clientele is different than in New Mexico. Although Arizona is a part of the Circle of Life Home Care initiative, the tribes have their own hospital and doctors, and HealthStar does not service the members on the Reservation. Instead, our Arizona location sees many clients who are aged 55+ disabled, ‘snowbirds’, and other local clients. There are 7 tribes in the AZ area, but they are more self-sufficient and prefer to care for their tribal members within the tribes. The Casa Grande area is approximately ½ Spanish speaking and we are able to cater to those individuals through team members who can communicate with them.

Here at HealthStar, our Native American-specific programs (First Nations and Circle of Life) offers equitable access to health care in order to reduce health disparities in diverse communities. Our cultural competence program, the 24ECC, internalized the values of those we serve:

We enjoy learning about traditions and being involved with the community by attending local holiday parties and visiting the local chapter houses. We partner with the chapter houses, or community centers, to support the seniors by offering memory screenings and other important events.

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 healthcare 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 and 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.

HHH - Holly Eide

Holly Eide, Area Manager, Arizona + New Mexico. Holly has been with HealthStar Home Health for over eight years, the last 5+ years running the Circle of Life Home Care program. Holly has been involved with many initiatives over the years, including the Alzheimer’s Whisperer program and educating on the importance of memory screenings.

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.

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.

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.

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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!

 

Be the Best Caregiver You Can Be – Avoiding Caregiver Burnout

If you are a caregiver to a family member and feeling emotionally burned out, you are not alone. According to the Minnesota Board on Aging, an estimated 679,000 Minnesotans are caring for an older or disabled adult. Caregiver burnout is defined by WebMD as a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude, from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned.

A family caregiver who is feeling stress, anxiety, fatigue, and depression can be experiencing caregiver burnout and needs to be realistic of their own personal situation. Although similar to the symptoms of stress and depression, symptoms of caregiver burnout can also include:

  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Feeling of irritability, hopelessness and helplessness
  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Change in appetite or weight
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Withdrawal from friends and family

It is just as important to take care of yourself as it is to care for your aging loved one to ensure you are being an effective caregiver. Follow these tips to help prevent burnout and keep your sanity and your own health in check:

  • Build a support team of people you trust and can count on to help you in a variety of ways.
  • Take advantage of professional home based and community services available that will help you take care of a diverse set of daily needs.
  • Educate yourself. You will provide more effective care if you know more about the illness the loved one you care for suffers from.
  • Develop coping mechanisms to help you deal with everyday stresses. Using humor and highlighting the positives will go a long way. Laughter truly is the best medicine – it lightens the mood and releases endorphins which will bring positive changes to your mindset.
  • Stay healthy by eating right, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly.

HealthStar Home Health understands how overwhelming it is to care for loved ones at home. We offer a variety of home healthcare services in the Duluth and Minneapolis, Minnesota communities to help support your senior loved one to live a more fulfilling life at home. From skilled nursing services to assist seniors with recovering from illness or injury to our homemaking or companion care programs to our comprehensive Alzheimer’s Whisperer program which provides care and treatment needed by those affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia, we have many options to help you care for your loved one.

With access to HealthStar Home Health’s Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS), you and your loved one will learn a variety of skills to help manage independent living and social situations. These skills, along with the services and program options, is a way to prevent caregiver burnout. Take advantage of what we offer to lift some pressure of your shoulders as caregiver. This will allow you the opportunity to take some much needed time for yourself and promote your own healthy habits.

Caring for a family member can be exhausting and overwhelming, there can also be a feeling of loneliness and isolation which will affect your own health and well-being. But, being a family caregiver can also be the most rewarding thing you will do. Learn to let it go by accepting the help of others so you can focus on what is most important and be healthy.

Learn more about the services and programs HealthStar Home Health offers by calling 651-633-7300 or visit our website today:  http://www.healthstarhomehealth.net