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: Katie Wagner, Finance Operations Manager

We all know that person. She’s the one you ask when you want to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – nothing buttered up; no flowers or rainbows. Just tell it like it is. It’s a rare talent, and Katie Wagner, Finance Operations Manager, has it in spades.

She’s not afraid to give her honest opinion, loudly and with feeling. But she’s also got a soft side, and she lets that side come out while she’s around her two kiddos at home. Don’t expect too much of the soft side to show up at work – Billing and Finance don’t allow a lot of touchy-feely stuff. But if you get her talking about Client care, you’ll know that soft part is still all melty and gooey in there, driving Katie to find the best possible coverage for each Client. Get ready for some extra special “insider info,” because Katie Wagner, the HealthStar Spotlight’s on you!

Big sister, Little sister

Katie has younger siblings as well as older siblings, which makes her the perfect combination of “little sister, big sister.” She grew up with 7 people in the house – both parents, plus four siblings. Talk about sharing! As the “big sister,” Katie knows how to take charge, but she also knows how to take a “little sister beating” in the form of being picked on by the other office “family.” Not that we would ever pick on employees, right Tim Lively?

Katie also has plenty of health care experience, which helps her to put herself in your shoes, whether you’re a caregiver, Client, or family member. She started out in PCA service and Assisted Living, and then worked her way up through the ranks to Office Manager at another home care agency before coming to HealthStar in 2013.

For me, home is where you can be yourself… there are no judgments, you can make up your own rules, you can have things the way you want them, and it’s not dictated by someone else… That’s the best part about home care; it gives people the option to be themselves, comfortably.

Katie Wagner

Katie can be the strong source of advice, and she can also sometimes be the one who needs a little TLC. For example, when we’re not sure of a Client’s coverage, Katie is always the first person in line to help figure things out. But when we have big hairy scary issues with a certain software which we won’t mention by name, Katie might need a little help peeling herself off the ceiling. No matter whether she’s in little sister or big sister mode, Katie is a fun part of the HealthStar family!

Competition, much?

If you really want Katie to shine, just tell her that it can’t be done, or that she’ll never find the answer. It’s not always obvious, but Katie is a fierce competitor. Katie wants her work to be the best – a great example of a job well done. She’s not just here to work, she’s here to shine, and she expects the same from her team.

Tell Katie that no one can get through to that insurance payor, and she’ll have a rep on the line before you can turn around. Tell her that we can’t figure something out, and she’ll call together a committee to get you an answer lickety-split. Give her an hour to get the job done, and she’ll have it back to you, finished, in 15-minutes. Apparently, she even has a long-running badmitton game with her brother, who lives in Arizona. They just start up again with the previous score every time they’re together. (and, yes, Katie is winning.) The only thing that Katie doesn’t compete on is food – she’s kind of a plain-Jane. But if there was a competition on who could eat the most Cheese Pizza, Katie would… at least show up.

Tenacity? YEAH, she has it!

The best part of the deal is that HealthStar’s Clients get the benefit of Katie’s drive to be great. She fights tooth and nail to get every allowed service covered. She is an insurance knight, fighting for those who don’t have so many years of billing experience to fight for themselves. Boy, does it feel good to have an advocate like this on your side when you are looking for service coverage! And for HealthStar, to have someone who knows the ins and outs is amazing, especially when researching and launching a new service line like we just did with ICLS!

As someone who has also “fought the good fight” in insurance billing, I can say from experience, it is very difficult to navigate benefits coverage if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. And with more than 16-years of home care experience, Katie knows what she’s looking for! There are some things that you can only learn from dealing with insurance coverage day in and day out. It’s amazing that Katie’s skill set and years of experience are available to our HealthStar Client base!

Laughter is the best… everything!

My personal favorite thing about Katie is her sense of humor. I had to choose this, because she is such a plain eater. I’m a very food-motivated person, so it is hard for me to write about someone who doesn’t really love the same variety of foods that I do. But that’s a me problem, and this is supposed to be about Katie… so, sense of humor it is!

Katie loves to laugh, and I love it when she laughs loud. She has a great “throw your head back” laugh. And she loves sarcasm, which is fabulous because many of us at Corporate are extremely sarcastic. But the absolute best thing about Katie is that Tim Lively can pick on her in just about any situation. She makes it so easy to tease her, it’s almost as easy as picking on Susan Mocchi for being small (and let me tell you, from experience, that is very easy to do. Like, any time someone brings a child’s hand-me-down clothes around, you say “Hey, that would fit Susan.” Or when you need someone to help put on your fine jewelry, it’s like, “Susan, can you do this with your tiny hands?” So, yeah, pretty easy.)

Wait, a fun meeting?

My favorite meetings are the ones where Katie, Tim, Susan and I are all involved. It’s really more of a roast than a meeting; Tim and I just take turns tossing one-liners around, and Katie and Susan look at each other like, “when can we file a complaint?” But they also both know how much we love them, so everybody comes out feeling great in the end. Or, at least, we haven’t gotten the complaint paperwork yet.

How can someone who has such a serious Billing and Finance job also have such a great sense of humor? I think it might be genetic. Katie has an awesome picture of her dad on her desk, and he has the BIGGEST smile I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty sure that his attitude and legacy have a lot to do with Katie’s own big smile. So, if you’re ever in North St. Paul, stop in and ask for a meeting with Katie, Tim, Beth and Susan. Bring some popcorn and put your feet up for a while – you won’t be disappointed.

If Katie helps everyone, then who helps Katie?

OK, so this spotlight also has an extra bonus item. Katie is a great biller in her own right, but she has a really awesome team. I couldn’t do this spotlight without mentioning the rest of the Billing/Finance staff. Greg Klinger and Leela Vang are the quiet strength to Katie’s thunder. They are both amazingly hard workers who want to get things done right. I sometimes realize that I’ve gone all day without talking to Leela or Greg, and I feel a little guilty and sad… But it’s not because I don’t love them – it’s because they are so focused on their tasks, and they very rarely need outside help to complete their responsibilities. After all, as much as it might feel like family, we are all here for work. Good thing you were sitting down for that, right?

Besides Billing staff, though, Katie also supervises payroll SuperWoman Jane Bauer, aka Sneezy MacSneezerson. Yes, that’s right, between Jane’s high number of rapid-fire “is she sniffing out of the pepper jar in there” sneezes, and Greg’s booming, large-breed dog-barking impersonation sneezes, the rest of us are mice among men in the sneeze department. So, not only does Katie have the most Corporate Office staff in her department, she also has the most Corporate Office sneezes reporting to her, by a large margin.

Work hard, play hard (then work hard some more)

The best thing is, Leela, Jane, and Greg also each have their own great sense of humor. So basically, the whole Billing/Finance/Payroll team is a barrel of sneezes and laughs. (ok, it’s not as gross as it sounds.) But at the end of the day, the most important thing about Billing is perseverance, and you know by now that Katie has this in spades. She doesn’t give up, which is a win for HealthStar and our Clients.

Got questions about insurance coverage for yourself or a loved one? Give us a call and see what Katie and our Billing/Finance team can do for you. Just don’t forget your sense of humor; you’re going to need it.

Independence – what does it mean to you?

This month, the US celebrates its independence as a nation. But when do you celebrate your independence as an individual? We all have different levels of independence, whether we look at physical, mental, emotional, financial, or age-related dependencies. But there’s no special day to celebrate our own personal successes in independence! Why not? We should all be celebrating the things that we can do on our own!

I remember the first time I was able to take my mom and dad out to dinner with money that I had earned. That feeling of accomplishment sticks with me today, although maybe it’s not so fun to pay the bill these days! I also feel grateful for all the things that I can do on my own every day, like getting out of the house or driving myself around where I need to go. Working in home care has shown me that health and independence are too important to take for granted!

Celebrate small victories!

We’ve all had various successes, from small to monumental; moments when we gain the strength and the ability to take care of things on our own. Some things come easy, but sometimes we really put a lot of work in before we really feel that independence! The good thing is that all that hard work makes the accomplishment feel So. Much. Greater!

One tip that we’ve discussed before comes from Nissa Fougner, director of Rehab Therapies. She reminds us that it’s important to celebrate the small victories, so that you can see the progress as it’s being achieved. When you are able to recognize those small steps that you’ve cleared on your way to the big hurdles, it gives you more energy to keep going toward the end goal!

New service, same team!

At HealthStar, we believe that this great feeling of accomplishment should be experienced by everyone! We’re excited to help our Clients achieve independence in whatever form makes the most sense for their unique goals. This is why HealthStar is expanding into a new line of service, designed to improve and foster independence for those we serve. We’re pleased to announce HealthStar’s new ICLS initiative (short for Individual Community Living Supports)! Adding ICLS service to HealthStar’s service offerings provides a new opportunity to help our Clients achieve greater independence in their own lives.

Adding ICLS still means working with the same great office staff that our Clients already know and love. We’re lucky to have such an amazing team – they are all excited to add this new tool to our home care toolbelt! We think the new ICLS initiative makes HealthStar one service stronger in the fight for our Clients’ independence. Whether we’re helping with mobility, rehabilitation, home safety, or just providing basic homemaking services, we want our Clients to learn and grow with us!

How can we help you with your independence goals?

Take a look at all of the various support services that HealthStar has to offer – maybe we’re a fit for you or for a family member who needs a little extra help gaining greater independence. The best part is, that when you invite HealthStar into your care circle, you also get our billing team and all of the services that we can cover for you! Our awesome billing department is great at digging into the specifics of what your insurance will cover. Insurance can be very confusing, but with a few experts on your side, you can be sure you’re getting the most out of your insurance coverage. Give us the chance, and we’ll be thrilled to discuss your situation – we’d love to work with you toward a more independent future!

Spotlight: Jayne Brinkman, Area Manager

Close your eyes, take a slow breath in, and think of the most relaxing place you can picture. Breathe out – is there a quiet trickle of water? Maybe there’s a soft carpet of moss, and speckled sunlight dancing through the forest canopy. Is there wildlife? Maybe a baby deer, gently nibbling on a fern? Or a soft baby duckling, waddling into the pond with his brothers.

"It will be fine!" - Jayne Brinkman

Wait a minute, is that a person in there? She’s so quiet, I almost didn’t notice. She’s even been talking this whole time, low and soothing and quiet. Something about “you got this, no worries.” She looks up and smiles, and I know everything will be taken care of.

Who is this magical embodiment of peace and calm? Why, it’s Jayne Brinkman, of course! She’s a great example of kindness, flexibility, and compassion, and a pretty darn good role model to follow. I know that I usually keep the spotlight to three special things about a person. If I can only tell you three things about Jayne, it might be painful for me. I will try, but I can tell you now, this will be a wandering 3-item path. Jayne Brinkman, the HealthStar Spotlight’s on you!

Empathy, much?

It’s no surprise that Jayne can represent the needs of our Clients and staff so well – she has been working in health care for 35 years. But the best thing I have learned in the process of writing this article is this: one of Jayne’s first jobs was in a factory, making cute and cuddly stuffed animals. In my head, this is what Jayne does every night in her sleep – sews adorable fluffy things to send out into the world when she wakes up. Jayne speaks with a velvety soft voice; never sharp, and only loud when it’s for fun. If we could see a physical form of the words that Jayne speaks, they would be literally soft and sweet, like powdered sugar pillows, covered in downy fluff.

Jayne feels for her audience, understanding where others are coming from and carefully choosing when to speak and when to let silence have a moment. In conflict, she soothes hurt feelings and reminds us that we’re all in this together. She is careful and considerate in decision making, weighing the options and thinking of all the people involved. She can energize the group, and she has her own spice that she brings to everything she does, but even when she’s energetic, she shares her energy in a comfortable way!

And Jayne can train!

Jayne has been sharing her empathy skills with HealthStar for just over 20-years, and has grown right along with this awesome HealthStar family! She is a 24ECC trainer and has been instrumental in development of the 24ECC program since its beginning. But wait, there’s more! Jayne has had a hand in just about every office, helping to train HealthStar staff far and wide. She helped train me, when I started here. She travels at the drop of a hat, to rescue whichever offices need her most. Jayne has a knack for bringing things down to a manageable level and making people feel welcome. She’s pretty much the Mary Poppins of HealthStar. And no matter what she gets asked to help with, she’s always…

Calm, party of 1

From the early days of New Mexico, to many years in Duluth, plus a few years in Wisconsin, then Fairmont… and, oh yeah, can we add Inver Grove Heights? Jayne is the ultimate HealthStar wanderer. Today, back on the home front, she manages 3 offices and one satellite in Minnesota. It’s common to receive a “where in the world is Jayne” email, detailing her plans for travel between Cloquet, Waite Park, Inver Grove Heights, and we can’t forget the super northern Nett Lake. She even has a Carmen SanDiego hat! But if she’s stressed about all the travel, she doesn’t let it show. She just spreads the calm from office to office, going with the flow on her journey!

In fact, over 10-years of working together, I have yet to see Jayne lose her cool or raise her voice in anger. Sometimes, I do hear her laugh a little loud or crack a joke, though! Through all of the changes at HealthStar, Jayne has been an oasis of calm, patience, and experience. We’ve seen successes and challenges, but never a negative peep from Jayne. She just says “time to put on the big girl panties,” and away we go! She never shies away from a challenge, and she is always there to help out. That’s probably why she get asked to do…

Other duties, to the MAX

The perfect blend of flexibility, responsibility, wisdom, and generosity have come together to create the Jayne Brinkman effect. Need help with a project? Jayne will magically show up and give you a hand. Struggling with your day? Oh, there’s Jayne to help figure out what’s going wrong. Have a weird question about how things are done at HealthStar? Jayne will help you figure things out. Starting a new venture? We all know that Tim has called on Jayne many a time to help get new things off the ground.

All in all, Jayne is a “let’s get this done” kind of gal. She’s resourceful, she’s great at gathering people together, and she knows how to direct focus toward the problem at hand. Maybe it comes from farming – she grew up on a dairy farm, and had to feed the cows, pigs, and chickens before and after school. The farm work ethic is clearly ingrained, and has followed Jayne to HealthStar, lucky for us!

No matter what the project, she’s ready to dig in. She truly does it all, from processing payroll to home visits. She’s even been a registered COTA in the past, but of course HealthStar administration won her back full-time. We just wouldn’t be the same without this Jayne Brinkman effect.

But what does she like to eat?

Gladys

Jayne is a “good eater” and says she will eat anything, but her favorite is macaroni and cheese. She also has very strong feelings for Cheetos, and a great sense of humor. Ask Jayne about Gladys, and you’ll hear a heart-wrenching story, from first love to a lifetime spent together, ending with Jayne’s sadness during Gladys’ final days. Luckily, Jayne emerged from the fire of loss and has, with time, begun to heal. Oh, did I mention, Gladys is Jayne’s old office chair? Shortly after Jayne was forced to replace Gladys, there was a mysterious “abduction” of a few choice chairs at Corporate, and a large jug of cheese balls was required to be paid for ransom. But I’m sure Jayne’s love of Cheetos had nothing to do with this crime spree…

So, what do we think of Jayne?

For Jayne’s 20-year HealthStar anniversary, we made her a scrapbook. Cristina Hernandez (and her wonderful and multi-talented mother, Marisol) created the most beautiful scrapbooking collection ever known to mankind. We all took surveys, we wrote powerful poetry, and we had a great time going through the memories that we all have of Jayne’s wild HealthStar adventures.

So what do we really think? Most people think that Jayne is the embodiment of Experience and Wisdom, followed by a tie between Calm/Peace and Joyfulness/Optimism. We love her Jayne-isms, which you have already seen peppered through this post. If Jayne were an animal, some people say she would be a mama bear, some say a work horse, and some said an owl. And we all think that she likes her coffee black and often!

But of course, my favorite question was, If Jayne were a food, which food would she be? Apparently, she would be pizza, cheese puffs, chicken noodle soup, cake, hotdish, mashed potatoes, sour patch kids, spicy meatballs, buffalo wings, caramel apple jelly, and salad. How can one person be so many different foods? Well, you’ll just have to contact our Cloquet, Waite Park, IGH, or Nett Lake office and request a meet and greet to find out for yourself!

Love and Charity – 24ECCs in action! HS + Safe Haven = ❤

During the month of May, HealthStar is focusing on the 24ECC’s of Love and Charity. Each office is partnering with a community agency to help support a good cause. Corporate and the Twin Cities Skilled office, for example, are working with an agency called Safe Haven Foster Shoppe. Safe Haven holds a unique mission of providing basic items to newly placed foster kids.

Safe Haven Mission: We want no child to enter foster care empty-handed.

Kids placed with foster families often have no belongings, other than the clothes they are wearing on placement. Safe Haven puts together bags of essentials (like toothpaste, toothbrushes, socks, or pajamas), with a goal of providing newly placed foster kids with a special bag within 24-hours of placement. HealthStar Home Health Corporate and Twin Cities Skilled hope to provide 4 completed bags to Safe Haven; two for girls and two for boys.

Found your heartstrings?

Hearing Safe Haven’s mission gave me chills. Kids in foster care need a little extra love, and what an amazing difference when there’s something special waiting at their new home. It’s a small thing, but to a kid going through this transition, this bag of items is something stable, personal, and all his/her own. If you’re in the twin cities metro area, please consider supporting Safe Haven with a donation. Drop items off at HealthStar’s Corporate and Twin Cities Skilled office during our drive, or contact and support Safe Haven directly at any time. Your support goes to a great cause!

Here’s a list of what goes into the various bags that Safe Haven creates. Providing these basic essential items on placement is a great way to support foster families and foster kids both at the same time! When you choose to donate financially or donate items, you can play an important part in Safe Haven’s mission and vision.

HealthStar has a big heart!

Thanks to Tim Lively, HealthStar owner, for generously supporting this effort. We are lucky to work at a company that supports staff in setting up a drive like this. And it’s also great that HealthStar financially participates in the donations set up by each office!

This is just one activity for these two combined offices, but all of HealthStar gets to join in on every 24ECC project! That’s ten more offices for Love and Charity. Don’t forget to check back and see all of the great Love and Charity activities from our other offices! I can’t wait to hear about them all, myself!

Want to know more about working at a supportive and caring company? Check out open positions, and learn more about HealthStar’s mission and vision!

Thank All The Nurses!

It’s National Nurses Week beginning today, May 6th, and ending Sunday, May 12th. It’s true – we can’t fit all of our national appreciation into a single day, so we have to spend a whole week appreciating. Because nurses are amazing. And we know HealthStar nurses are extra special, because they have the HealthStar family to back them up!

Nurses, like folks in any other profession, come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and personality types. There are gentle nurses, there are “down to business” nurses, there are kind and caring nurses, there are spiritual and not-so-spiritual nurses. There are some nurses who like wound care, some who like paperwork and regulations, and some who like becoming a part of the patient’s direct support group. The great thing is, all of these nurses have something in common – a drive to heal others, in one way or another.

At HealthStar, we know that we need all of these different types of nurses to help us provide the best possible patient care. And so this week, we’ll make an extra effort to show appreciation to all of these types of nurses for the many ways they touch our lives and the lives of our HealthStar Clients!

Put ‘er there!

To all of our HealthStar nurses – I can’t come out and high-five each of you, but I can send you this:

Image result for virtual high-five

Thank you to our HealthStar nurses!

“As a nurse, we have the opportunity to heal the heart, mind, soul and body of our patients, their families and ourselves. They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

Without our nursing staff, we would be lost as an agency! HealthStar is lucky to have each of you putting your special kind of care into all that you do. Thank you to all of our HealthStar nurses for your service, your compassion, and your dedication to patient care!

Interested in learning how you can become a member of the HealthStar family? Check out our careers page to learn about what positions we have open in your area. Just think, the next spotlight post could be about you!

Better Health through Kindness

To me, May is a reminder of kindness. My favorite part of May has always been “May Day,” celebrated on May 1st. To celebrate, my family would create a little basket of goodies for each of our neighbors. Then, the fun: ding the neighbor’s doorbell, leave the basket, and RUN. This always felt amazing! Not only was I doing something fun with my mom and my sister, I also loved to imagine my surprised neighbors, overjoyed by finding a surprise of flowers, fruit, or cookies in a lovely basket on their doorstep. (I’m sure they knew it was us, but it felt like such a secret to me as a kid.)

To this day, I get excited about May Day, because it represents something wholesome, kind, and caring. I’m no Martha Stewart, but I still yearn for those happy little things that make my heart feel full to bursting, and this memory is one of those things.

As it turns out, that “heart full of joy” feeling you get from kind and generous activities does more than just make you happy – it’s also great for your health! (I’m sure you knew I’d get around to this eventually.) Check out these benefits of sharing a bit of kindness, and stick around for a few simple ideas to spread the warm, fuzzy feelings around! At the end of this post, you’ll also find a bunch of links that support the positive impact a little kindness can have on your health and well-being.

A kind heart is a healthy heart!

Studies have shown that when we complete an act of kindness, we receive a boost in the hormone Oxytocin. According to Dr. David Hamilton, “Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide in blood vessels, which dilates (expands) the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and therefore oxytocin is known as a ‘cardioprotective’ hormone because it protects the heart (by lowering blood pressure).”

Is it enough of a reduction to negate the extra salt in my diet? Well, I’m no doctor, but I am an expert in wishful thinking. Maybe if I share those French fries, the kindness boost might just evaporate some of the “bad stuff” about the fries themselves. Plus, by sharing, I’m only eating half as many as I would have if I’d been selfish. That’s a win, win situation!


Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.

Albert Schweitzer

Oxytocin has also been called a “love hormone” because it is produced by nursing moms and helps them bond (and fall absolutely in love) with their new babies. It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that this same hormone helps us bond with others in social situations as well! It can help reduce anxiety and keep depression at bay. When you couple this benefit with the next, the cumulative effect is a great mood boost!

More endorphins? Yes, please!

Acts of kindness can also repay you in the form of serotonin release and endorphin production. Most of us have heard that serotonin “makes you feel good.” It is commonly believed that low serotonin levels can lead to depression, anxiety disorder, and other mood disorders. On the flip side, a little boost in serotonin supports feelings of happiness and enhances the “good mood” feeling.

Add the endorphin release, and you’ve really got a good thing going! Endorphins increase the feeling of well-being, help relieve stress, and even decrease pain in a similar way to opioid drugs, but without any of those nasty side-effects! Together, the increases in oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins create an unstoppable mood-and-body-boosting trio. The kindness effect combats everything from depression and anxiety to aches and pains. Speaking of aches and pains, that brings us to…

What about inflammation?

Chronic inflammation is of great interest to researchers as a potential underlying contributor to many illnesses. According to this study, “Regularly engaging in volunteering has a special way of getting ‘under the skin,’ resulting in what appears as a younger biological profile for inflammation.” Volunteering gave a greater health benefit, in terms of reduced overall inflammation, than other types of “productive activity,” possibly because of the health boost received based on the generosity and kindness involved in the act of volunteering.

Reducing inflammation may help the body avoid many kinds of health issues, including Alzheimer’s disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, cancer – and these are just the big names. Everyday ailments like joint pain and arthritis can also seem lighter after an act of kindness. If we thought of kindness as medicine, how much more of it could we create?

Wow, kindness is strong stuff!

But wait – there’s more! In addition to all the benefits we’ve already discussed, let me throw in one more tidbit. This one is my favorite. Kindness begets kindness. It’s the ripple effect – an act of kindness can spread from one person to many, and it happens with so little effort!

Put kindness in action:

Maybe you buy a coffee for the guy behind you in the drive-through today. The person working the window gets to be a part of your kindness, which benefits him or her. The guy getting the free coffee doesn’t know you to thank you, so hopefully he’ll pass on the kindness to another stranger, or maybe even two. Each of those people, in turn, commit their own acts of kindness, spreading your single act to a positive health impact on a whole bunch of people, all for the cost of a single cup of coffee.


I like to pay for the coffee of the other folks behind me in line. It typically costs me less than $10, and makes the other people feel good, but more importantly, it makes me feel so good, and random acts of kindness change the world one person at a time.

Robert Kraft

It’s easy for me to see the benefit of a single act, but really, who does only one kind thing in a day? How many kindnesses can you spread around today? If we all take a few minutes to plan something generous and selfless, just imagine the impact we can have! Here are some ideas to get you started:

Our first day being kind

Everyone is new at something, some time. The good news is, it doesn’t take long to get the hang of dishing out kindness. A smile at a stranger, a compliment or a helping hand – these are all free. Here’s one of my secrets, and I don’t mind sharing it with you: lots of times, when I see someone is having a tough day, I will go out of my way to find something nice to say about that person.

Look at what he or she is wearing, the hairstyle or the accessories. There’s always something that took a little extra time to do, or something that maybe he’s insecure about or she wasn’t so sure if she could pull off that day. What if you’re the one to say “hey, I really like your scarf, where did you get it?” or “you look great today, what did you do differently?” Such a simple thing can really go a long way to making someone feel noticed.

A few more freebies

Donate your unwanted stuff to a women’s shelter or volunteer for an outreach organization in your area. These are fabulous causes, and of course, you’ll get the health benefit from the act of generosity. Help load someone’s groceries, open the door for a stranger, or help your neighbor with yard work if you happen to be outside at the same time.

And, of course, there’s that “pay for the guy behind me” trick in the drive-through. It’s a game of chance – he or she might be buying for the whole office! It sure does feel good though, when you can surprise someone with a free order; even though you don’t see the reaction, you know what you’d feel like if it happened to you!

We’re not done yet!

I’m lucky to work at HealthStar, because we have whole offices full of kindness. There is something to be said for working with people who truly care about people. I feel it every day, surrounded by nurses and support staff who would drop everything to help a person in need. But even for those who find it easy to spread kindness, a reminder might be needed. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own little world sometimes! Here are some of my favorite workplace examples of sharing kindness – maybe you can start small in your office today!

Share your lunch with someone who doesn’t have much that day – I know I’ve been on both the giving and receiving end of this one, and both are amazing. Give a few minutes of your time to a co-worker who needs a listening ear. Leave a “love note” to tell your co-workers what you admire most about them. Bring a treat to share, or if you’re on a health kick, bring some fruit or veggies and hummus. Recognize the contribution of a team member, or just send a little email to tell someone you’re thinking of her. And don’t forget the May Day basket – I’d love to see this tradition revitalized, in or out of the office setting!

Go forth and be kind!

I challenge you to come up with your own creative ways to spread kindness, and I promise you’ll enjoy these wonderful benefits to your own health and wellness in return. I think this is nature’s way of telling us that this is how we should be doing things – give to someone else, and in return, you get something that maybe even money can’t buy. A heart full of joy, and a body full of health!

And as always, contact HealthStar if you’re looking for staff who know how to put kindness into action to help you reach your health and wellness goals!

Please check out these links for more information:

Understanding Inflammation

The Science of Kindness

6 Science-Backed Ways Being Kind is Good for Your Health

How Sharing Kindness Can Make You Healthier, Happier

Why Random Acts of Kindness Matter

A Little Love for Admin Day!

HealthStar has plenty of administrative staff to thank today, in honor of Administrative Professionals Day! If it weren’t for our Admin staff, we’d all be curled up in a ball, crying, and wondering what we’re supposed to do next.

To say a very special thank you to each of our Admin staff, in varying departments, with all of their different titles and hats, I thought do a little mini-spotlight for each Admin! There are so many of you, and only one of me, so forgive me if they are quite brief. HealthStar Admin staff – the spotlight’s on you!

Here comes the thank-you train

Special thanks to Jill in Bemidji, for her positivity and for her super MacGyver door-unlocking skills… not that she’d ever need to use those skills at work, because no one would EVER lock the door by accident…

Thanks to Theresa in Gallup for 11 years of amazing attitude and fun, but when you have to work hard, boy does the office get scared!

Jean in Cass Lake – thank you for being so friendly and kind, for always chatting with me a bit, and on behalf of the Cass Lake office, thanks for keeping things neat and tidy!

The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.

Walter West

Thank you to Jane at Corporate for the obvious, of course – watering the plants, and keeping us up-to-date on the ancestry of her family! (and also thanks for being amazing at payroll, can’t forget that minor detail)

Thanks to Stephanie in Ogema for being a fun, new team member, even though you don’t like post-its. Can’t wait to hear more about the gardening and animal rescue!

Laura in Bemidji, your love of post-its might cause friction with Stephanie, but we can’t see it from Corporate so we will pretend it isn’t happening. Thanks for your amazing empathy, and for having the best phone voice at HealthStar.

Barbara in Inver Grove, your character shines through the phone with the power of a lightsaber. Thanks for always helping out, and for having a fabulous sense of humor!

Accomplishing the impossible means only the boss will add it to your regular duties.

Doug Larson

Thanks to Kaely in Arizona, who sings to the office and calms everyone with wonderful candles. We appreciate you keeping Holly in check!

Thank you to Kristen from Bemidji to Cass – we sure do appreciate your chameleon skills going from office to office and helping out where you are needed most!

Cristina, our Metro then Corporate then IGH transplant – we miss you at Corporate! Thank you for being outspoken and funny, for lightening the mood, and for keeping us organized!

Jekeia in Mental Health, thank you for always being willing to help out with equipment going one way or another! You have a way with putting a smile on everyone’s face, which helps everyone stay positive on those dark and dreary days!


No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another. Thank you.

Joseph Addison

Corporate would not be the same without Greg, our resident pizza delivery man. Thank you for being willing to carb out with us (and for making me feel less bad about my life choices)!

Thank you to Rachel in Gallup, first caregiver, now office staff. Everyone in the office is really enjoying your enthusiasm on the team! Thank you for jumping right in and being willing to learn!

Joanne, our Corporate “Betty Crocker,” thank you for the thoughtful treats, for your positivity, and for keeping our meetings lively!

Diane in Arizona – sounds like you are the “Betty Crocker” of the Arizona crew! Thank you for the treats that you share, and for your willingness to fill in as needed in the field!

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.

William Arthur Ward

Thank you to Denise in Cloquet for being so patient with our help desk! Thank you for sharing your wisdom, and for helping Amy, we know she is so glad to have you there!

Maria at Corporate – I’m not exactly sure if you really count as an admin because you also have reports, but your biggest thank you from what I’ve seen is for your flexibility and patience with us as we figure out just exactly what we are doing around here!

Kelsey in Waite Park – thank you for being new with Neal, so that he is not alone! Thank you for your positivity and compassion!

Thank you to Leela at Corporate for being super easygoing and calm about everything. You’ve got a great laugh and we love when we sneak it out during meetings!

Thanks for being you!

To all of our admin staff – THANK YOU for being you, we are so lucky to have such an amazing team! If I have committed a mortal sin and forgotten someone, please accept my apologies! HealthStar truly appreciates each and every one of you; you’re our backbone and we are so grateful for the support that you provide!

The greatest sign of how much you are all loved is this: when I sent out a request for feedback, so that I could write this post about our admin staff, I got something from just about every office within a day. That’s totally unheard of, so I know how much you all mean to your offices. Every single office jumped at the chance to send amazing and wonderful information about each and every admin employee. It has been fun to learn a little more about each of you, and I hope that I’ve done the offices justice in my “thank you” duties!

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!