Spotlight: HealthStar IT

Have you heard enough about cybersecurity this month? Well, maybe just a little more won’t hurt you… but I’ll go easy on the techo mumbo jumbo – this is a more personal piece. For October’s Spotlight, I thought I’d do something a little different. Since we’re talking cybersecurity all month, why not look at the two HealthStar employees who do the nitty gritty computer work? You know, the gals you call when something breaks. The ones you email, even though you already know you’re supposed to send a ticket to support@hhhealth.net. Yeah, I’m talking about Susan Mocchi and Beth Taylor, HealthStar’s in-house IT team. (we’re also the blog writer and designer, so prepare yourself for a lot of tooting our own horns) Susan and Beth – the HealthStar Spotlight’s on… us?

Introvert vs Socially Awkward Extrovert – how to tell the difference

Susan and I are like two sides of the same coin. The coin is basically hidden and doesn’t really want to be spent, although it has immense value. The coin wants to stay inside and not talk to anyone some days, even though the coin loves everyone around it. I’m not sure if this analogy is working at all, and at this point, I’m too afraid to ask.

Oh, yeah, and the coin speaks really fluent meme.

So, which side of the coin is introvert, and which side is just socially awkward extrovert? Let’s see if you can spot the differences:

  • Introvert will email you instead of calling you, every single time;
  • Awkward Extrovert will call you and have a goofy and twisty-turny conversation while fixing your computer.
  • Introvert enjoys spending time alone after work;
  • Awkward Extrovert can’t wait to call everyone she knows on her way home.
  • Introvert would like to conclude this meeting;
  • Awkward Extrovert doesn’t realize this isn’t a meeting at all, it was just a couple people passing in the hall, and we can all move on now.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’ll let you keep guessing.

Carnivore vs Vegetarian (bet you know how to tell these apart)

This one’s easier to spot. One of us loves eating bacon and all other smoked meats, as well as steak, chicken, and various other formerly living animals, including fish. The other one will not, under any circumstances, eat any of those things. Not even if it’s just broth. But there was that one time, when she accidentally ate fish sauce.

So, you’d think this would make for a pretty difficult food-sharing relationship, right? Surprisingly, there are a lot of things that both Susan and I enjoy eating together. For example, macaroni and cheese. There could be bacon involved, but it doesn’t have to be. I mean, there should be, but we can compromise.

We sure do like cooking.

Also, we both enjoy veggie burgers, hard boiled eggs, refried beans, and dessert hummus. Yes, dessert hummus is totally a thing, and yes, it is delicious. No matter what Angel Sims, Skilled Program Manager, tells you – it is not normally gritty. THAT WAS JUST ONE TIME. Most of the time, it is wonderfully smooth and tastes like brownie batter or cookie dough, Angel.

Oh, and we also both love baked or fried Tofu. And cream cheese wontons. And veggie spring rolls. Except don’t forget to tell Susan that THERE’S FISH SAUCE IN THAT DIPPING SAUCE.

Small arms vs regular sized arms

So, neither of us is super tall, but Susan is probably the shortest person allowed to drive. I mean, she’s basically a child’s Large. But this isn’t the third thing, it’s just a bonus.

We both love to help people

The best thing about working with Susan is that she loves to help out. And I assume that the best thing about working with me is my witty sense of humor, and the fact that I set the wardrobe bar kinda low, so usually you’ll look pretty good in whatever you’re wearing, because I’m wearing something not as nice. Oh, and also, I love to help out as well.

Susan makes the shelf a little heavier for Tim. Beth handles the power tools, and Angel Sims supervises. (The peace sign means that we are doing a great job.)

We both enjoy being challenged with a new task, and we especially like it when that new task is a special project assigned by Barb Jezorski. Those are The. Best. Tasks. Ever. (Usually, they involve things like writing a funny poem, or making a silly game.) We feel best when we are useful and working on a project that will help make things easier or better for someone else.

This is why, when I have a problem, Susan will always help me. And this is also why, when Susan has a problem, after picking on her for being small, I will always help her. We make a really good team, because we are both willing to pause our own work for a minute to do something different. This doesn’t just extend to each other – we also love to help other departments, and of course, we kick butt on the IT helpdesk. Just ask a question and see how happy we are to help out!

But who are we?

Susan is a master at Photoshop, forms design, and marketing stuff. She is caring, kind, supportive, and funny. If you need someone to talk to, Susan will never send you away, even if she’s busy and you’re an extrovert who doesn’t know when the conversation has ended. She will always make time to help her co-workers, and she will drag you to lunch on those days when you think you’re too busy to leave your desk. Yes, I speak from experience.

Part of the reason that I still work here is because Susan is my backup, my team-mate, and sometimes my only pillar of strength. She reminds me that there are only so many hours in a day, and that some of those hours should be spent standing up, away from my assigned work space. On my most stressful days, Susan is often the only one who truly understands my struggle, and she is always there to help me through. She knows how to read my facial expressions, especially when I’ve made a terrible mistake (never happens).

“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.”

Bernard Meltzer

Most of all, even though Susan is a super-duper introvert, she tolerates me and my awkward, extroverted ways, and she never calls me out on being “too much people” for her. She is a true partner at work, letting me help her out with the fun stuff when I can, and asking me what she can do when I’m overwhelmed. Susan supported me when I asked to blog write for HS, which is something that I have come to really enjoy, and she has trusted me and backed me up on all of my wild and hare-brained IT schemes. For all of these reasons and more, I thank you, Susan, because without you, I would be totally, utterly, and hopelessly lost in a sea of endless tasks. I couldn’t do this job without you!

As for me – I’m a master at some random things, but because I am myself, I see only my flaws, and I have never been good at tooting my own horn. Some people say that I’m a good writer. I like corn on the cob, and I think that Mexican Street Corn and the stuff from the State Fair are both the BEST EVER. Some days, I share my lunch with Jane Bauer, payroll extraordinaire, and other days, Jane shares her lunch with me. I don’t take very many things too seriously. I am not a fast runner, I know a few things about computers, and I really like the Thai Chili Lime Cashews from Trader Joe’s.

That is all.

Oh, yeah, and we both love TopDog

So, in the interest of full disclosure, Susan and I don’t do everything IT-related on our own. We have a lot of backup from TopDog PC, and we are so grateful for that backup! See the post from earlier this month if you want to know more about that. We’re glad that we have backup for the super technical stuff, and for the stuff that we just can’t get to in a timely manner. Three cheers for TopDog – hip, hip, Hooray! Hip, hip, Hooray! Hip, hip, yeah ok, you know what’s coming next.

Spotlight: Chasidy Myhrer, Operations Manager

There are so many things to say about Chasidy, I’m having a hard time deciding on just a few. Kindness, responsibility, flexibility, compassion, respect… and that’s just the tip of the 24ECC iceberg, folks. Chasidy is helpful, but not pushy. She’s kind, but not a pushover. She knows all about checking items off of lists, and she’s no stranger to saving money! She’s something special, and HealthStar is very lucky to have her! Chasidy, let’s celebrate your 10-year HealthStar anniversary together by sharing 3 of your special abilities – the HealthStar Spotlight’s on you!

Tenacity, with a side of Courage

I’ve mentioned before that we have a lot of variety in backgrounds at HealthStar. We cover a lot of “used to’s,” from finance to flight attendants. Chasidy is no exception. In fact, she studied photography on a scholarship as a college student, so how the heck did we get so lucky to have her on staff as one of HealthStar’s northern Operations Managers? Try to keep up while I tell you!

After Chasidy decided not to pursue a full-time career in photography, she took a job at a title company, learned all about real estate, and worked on a Medical Coding Certificate on the side. (I assume that she crafted one thousand doilies per month and knitted scarves for homeless lemurs in her spare time; she’s kind of an overachiever.) After she got engaged, Chasidy moved to Bemidji and gold-starred her way into a position at a credit union and then an opioid treatment facility. The treatment facility kept Chasidy busy for a few years, but then Chasidy thought “what could I add to my not busy enough schedule?” and decided to add an AAS in Human Resources to her growing list of credentials. In a stroke of good fortune, HealthStar snapped Chasidy up while she was studying HR, and she has been “locked in” here ever since.

But wait, there’s more!

Chasidy started at HealthStar as an Administrative Assistant II in our Bagley office in 2009. I remember when Chasidy started, because we had some… let’s call them “unique challenges” in the Cass Lake office at that time, and Chasidy helped out over there quite a bit as well. (Cass Lake is amazing these days, we all love Branch Manager Michelle Colliflower!) It didn’t take long for Chasidy to make a good impression as an Admin, and from there, she started climbing the ranks. In 2010, she was snapped up as Assistant Branch Manager in Bagley, and in 2014, she relocated with the Bagley team to our current Bemidji location.

A funny thing about Chasidy – she’s amazing at work, but she also has the fabulous ability to set boundaries and maintain her home life. So when I say she was promoted to Branch Manager, at least the way I’ve heard it, it was more like HealthStar said “You should do this,” and Chasidy said, “I don’t know if I’m ready,” and then HealthStar said “Yeah, we KNOW you can do this, we’ll be here with you, and we really, really want you to… (insert puppy dog eyes and lots of pretty, pretty, pleases) so… you’ll do it, right???”

Of course, Chasidy knocked it out of the park as Branch Manager, and then HealthStar “pretty, pretty pleased” again, and Chasidy stepped up to the plate as Operations Manager for our northern offices in Bemidji and Cass Lake. So here’s the message – Chasidy, we’re following you straight to the top of the food chain here at HealthStar! We are so proud of all that you’ve accomplished while you’ve worked with us, and we thank you for all that you give to the company, day in and day out!!!

All in the Family!

Chasidy is fabulous at “putting on the shoes” of HealthStar’s Clients, partly because she grew up with a family member who received home care services. Her older sister, Kimberly, was born with Hydrocephalus and Cerebral Palsy. Kimberly continues to beat the odds of Cerebral Palsy to this day. Chasidy says, “Home Care was instilled in me long before I knew what it was.” Growing up watching home care and other various services come in and out of the family home must have been quite the experience. HealthStar is lucky to gain from Chasidy’s experiences. Because she got to see the benefits of home care first-hand, Chasidy is a great resource for what we can do to best serve HealthStar and First Nations’ clients all across northern Minnesota.

Chasidy may be a few hours from her home town of Fairhaven, MN (near St. Cloud), but she still enjoys visiting her parents and extended family often, especially during the town’s annual Old Settlers event. She’s a family gal, what can we say – it’s why we love having her in our HealthStar family! Working with Chasidy is like working with an old friend – she’s easy to talk to, she laughs easily, and she has a special way of making you feel like you’re just as important to her as her own family members. She adopts each of our Clients into her own “Chasidy Family,” and she speaks up for their needs as she would for her own relatives.

Poise – what is it?

Something that’s hard to describe, but that Chasidy has in spades, is poise.

poise [poiz]
noun

  1. a stably balanced state: EQUILIBRIUM
  2. a: easy self-possessed assurance of manner : gracious tact in coping or handling
    b: a particular way of carrying oneself : BEARING, CARRIAGE

Chasidy’s calm and patient demeanor surround her like a soothing lavender sachet. She doesn’t jump to conclusions. Her thoughts seem always collected. I ask my HealthStar co-workers – have any of you heard Chasidy speak harshly? Seen her make any rash decisions? It is very rare. When Chasidy is confronted with conflict, she takes a step back, re-focuses, and then steps in with her thoughts cool and controlled. She must get riled sometimes, but I certainly haven’t seen it.

Bonus ECC?

Poise is not technically a 24ECC. But I think it can be found in several of the characteristic ECCs, like Respect, Calm, Diplomacy, and Gentleness. Chasidy displays seemingly effortless poise – it looks like it is a very natural thing for her. She is cautious, thoughtful, and gentle with her words. In a fiery debate, Chasidy is a warm cup of tea, bringing everyone back to the table and soothing throats raw from shouting. She calmly states objectives and doesn’t assign blame.

Yeah, she really is this good.

HealthStar is very lucky to have Chasidy on our side. She represents us with a levelheadedness that is not easy to find, and she gets along with pretty much everyone. Want to see this for yourself? Stop on by the Bemidji or Cass Lake office, and you can check out the show of poise in action! I promise you won’t be disappointed. You might even make a new friend – Chasidy says she is often befriended by strangers while out running errands, and she gets told lots of stories and information by people she has just met. She has a kind smile and a caring attitude, so I’m not surprised to hear she’s developing a fan club of followers!

But what are her hobbies?

Research is a big part of preparing to write a blog post. When the post is about a person, I have a questionnaire that I send out. One of the questions is about hobbies or abilities. To be clear, when I ask about hobbies, ORGANIZING is not something that I would expect to see listed there. I suppose it is an ability… but, Chasidy, you literally said that you enjoy it. I am wondering about your mental health as I write this portion of the post, because ORGANIZING is not something that I would file under “things to enjoy.” But I digress.

To be fair, Chasidy also says that she enjoys fishing, camping, photography, and traveling. And, of course, she loves her kiddos (daughter, 5, and son, 8), and her whole family loves sports (GO BEAVERS!). Did I mention, she also has 7 chickens, 1 dog, and 2 goldfish? But personally, I just can’t quite get past that ORGANIZING part.

This section also does not count as a shared thing, because I usually only do 3 things. This is a bonus.

OK and also, I forgot all about how thrifty she is – she is the best thrift store and consignment shopper since Julie Swedberg. We miss you, Julie!

Put it all together!

Do you struggle to prioritize multiple tasks? Are you experiencing conflict, and you want to talk about it with a stranger? Maybe you just want to share a good laugh with an old friend. Stop by the Bemidji or Cass Lake office and ask for Chasidy – she’s the master of all this and more. She can explain HealthStar’s philosophy while also organizing your clutter and patiently listening to your life story. And maybe after, you guys can do some shopping together!

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. 😊

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!