AUCP Continues to grow

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UCP Connections to Independence has made the tough decision to no longer provide Service Coordination services to the central part of the state. They have given AUCP the opportunity to merge this portion of their agency services with ours, allowing AUCP to employ their staff and continue participant services. It is with great pride that we will be onboarding 10 of their former service coordinators and about 350 of their former participants.

We are extremely grateful for this opportunity to grow our agency and we look forward to offering our quality services to more participants throughout the state. Current AUCP participants should not expect any changes in their services due to the growth of our agency.

AUCP AmeriHealth Training

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Our AUCP AmeriHealth team participated in a two-day training at AmeriHealth Caritas Pittsburgh Headquarters earlier this week. The team was provided with intensive training and had the opportunity to do team building with AmeriHealth Caritas and other contracted Service Coordination entity staff. The broad training refreshed our team’s memory on many of the processes set in place as well as exploring new areas to better equip them in providing quality care and services to our participants who have AmeriHealth Caritas as their MCO provider under Community Health Choices.

 

Pictured from left to right: Hollie Orris, Nursing Home Coordinator; Kay Freedman, Service Coordinator; Linda Freidhoff, SC Supervisor; and Lauren Pennewill Service Coordinator.

Employment First

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Pennsylvania recently created the Employment First objective so participants receiving long-term services and supports have the option to work. If you are eager to work, but are not sure where to start, call your service coordinator or our office at 814.619.3398 to see what options are available to you.

Community Health Choices

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Community HealthChoices (CHC) coordinates your health care coverage to improve the quality of your health care experience — every participant has the opportunity to choose one of three Managed Care Organizations (MCO) including:

Each MCO uses a group of doctors, hospitals, clinics, and other health care providers to meet your health care needs.

Change can be frightening, especially when it comes to your health. We can offer you the assurance that you are under great care when you are with AUCP.

Deciding which Managed Care Organization (MCO) will be the right fit for you is your next step, here is some insight from our supervisors:

“What makes PA Health and Wellness stand out is their Medicare program, Allwell. This is for dual eligible participants and offers comprehensive health care and prescription coverage.”

– Gwen Msolomba, PA Health and Wellness Supervisor

“AmeriHealth Caritas is dedicated to assisting their participants on getting care, staying well and building healthy communities with the focus on person centered planning when accessing services for each participant.”

– Linda Freidhoff, AmeriHealth Supervisor

“UPMC offers comprehensive services and supports available to participants. They also have value-added benefits, such as smart phones and smoking cessation programs… ”

– Jessica Pulliam Petrunak, UPMC Supervisor

CHC rolled out in the Philadelphia region this January and will be rolling out in the rest of the state January 2020. For more information call 1-833-735-4416 or visit www.HealthChoicesPA.com.

 

UPDATE: 1/28/19 – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

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Harrisburg, PA – Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today warned Pennsylvanians about misinformation regarding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits during the partial federal government shutdown.

“Misinformation is being spread to try to take advantage of the confusion surrounding the partial federal government shutdown,” said Secretary Miller. “If you receive SNAP benefits, these benefits do not expire at the end of January and will be available as long as you do not spend the entire benefit.”

February benefits for SNAP were dispersed to Pennsylvanian recipients on January 16 and 17. These benefits will be available through February as long as recipients have a remaining balance. SNAP funds do not expire at the end of each month and are able to be spent for a calendar year.

DHS has received calls from SNAP recipients who believe that benefits must be spent by January 31 or they will expire. This is untrue, and any information being circulated suggesting otherwise is false. The early February payment will be available beyond this month as long as funds are not fully spent, and SNAP recipients must remember that this payment needs to last for all of February.

“It is imperative that SNAP recipients budget their benefits,” said Secretary Miller. “Planning meals ahead of time, looking for coupons in-store circulars or online, and signing up for a store’s discount or bonus card can help your benefit go further. If SNAP recipients find themselves in a difficult situation, many charitable food organizations are preparing to meet this need if the partial federal government shutdown continues.”

On January 8, 2019, DHS received notice from the USDA that February SNAP benefits will be fully funded, but that these benefits needed to be issued by January 20. DHS worked closely with its vendors and were able to issue the February benefits to electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards by January 18. This early issuance is for SNAP recipients’ February benefit and will be the only benefit issuance SNAP recipients will receive for the month of February. Clients will not receive a SNAP benefit on their regularly scheduled February issuance date. DHS sent a letter to SNAP recipients last week to notify them of this change.

SNAP benefits beyond February will be determined based on the availability of USDA funds. The department is awaiting information from the USDA on plans for March benefits should the partial federal government shutdown continue.

DHS continues to process applications for all benefits during the shutdown. Recipients should continue to report changes and submit any semi-annual reviews or renewals they receive during this period to not risk an interruption of their benefits in the future.

Clients with questions about their benefits can contact their local County Assistance Office or can call the statewide customer service center at 1-877-395-8930. Clients who reside in Philadelphia should call 1-215-560-7226.

7 Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Cold Weather

As cold weather approaches, there are several things you can do around the house to make sure you and your family stay warm and safe all winter. These seven steps can ensure your house will be in top shape for whatever winter brings.

  1. Protect Your Pipes: We all know water expands as it freezes. If water inside your pipes freezes, it will expand, too, which can cause your pipes to crack and burst. Pipes also can burst when pressure builds up behind a chunk of ice, which is why it’s a good idea to leave faucets dripping in very cold weather. Take a few steps to winterize your pipes and avoid a potentially catastrophic claim.
    • Drain water from outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems to keep those pipes from freezing.
    • Disconnect and store outdoor hoses; cover outdoor faucets with foam insulators.
    • Protect water pipes that run through unheated areas of your home with insulation.
  2. Check the Heat: The time to be sure you’re going to stay warm all winter is before the weather gets too cold. Check your furnace by turning on the heat and the blower to be sure they’re operating as they should.
    • Change your furnace filter at the start of the season and then every two to four months.
    • Consider installing a programmable thermostat if you don’t have one.
  3. Prevent Ice Dams: Ice dams form when heat escapes through the roof and melts snow that’s settled there. That snowmelt flows to your roof’s edge and refreezes, usually at the eaves. Those pretty icicles can signal an ugly ice dam underneath. The problem with an ice dam is that snow that later melts can’t properly drain, so it has to go somewhere… and that might be through a leak in your roof, causing water damage in your home.
    • Clogged gutters and downspouts are the No. 1 cause of ice dams. Clean them out to keep water flowing during the winter.
    • Seal places that may allow warm air to leak from your home to your attic.
    • Be sure soffit vents, which are along the eaves of the house and allow air to flow into the attic, are clear.
    • If you’ve had problems with ice dams before or have reason to suspect you might this year, you can take these additional steps:
      • Install snow and ice slides to prevent ice and snow from “bonding” to your roof.
      • Install a rubberized ice and water shield beneath the roof shingles, going 3 to 6 feet back from the eaves.
      • Hire a roofer to install heat cable along the eaves to melt ice.
      • Add additional insulation to your attic floor.
  4. Clean and Store Lawn Equipment: After a summer of yard work, gas-powered equipment such as mowers, trimmers, tillers, and chippers can all benefit from service before being stored for the winter.
    • Empty all of the fuel. Gas can degrade all the time, and the ethanol in E10 gas can damage fuel lines and other components while sitting unused.
    • Clean the machine of oil and yard debris, and sharpen the blades.
    • Store them for winter in a basement, garage, or covered storage shed where they’re safe from the weather.
  5. Inspect the Fireplace and Chimney: There’s nothing like the glow of a fire to warm up a winter evening. But before you light up that first log, make sure your fireplace and chimney are clean and critter-free.
  6. Seal Windows and Doors: Gaps around windows and doors can make it tough to keep your house warm in winter. Caulk around windows and install weather stripping around doors as needed. This minor and inexpensive task can help you save on heating costs. Another option is to add storm windows and doors. Remove, wash and store screens for the spring before you have them installed.
  7. Stock Up on Cold-weather Essentials: When winter storms hit, they often come with power outages. To ensure you and your family are prepared for anything Mother Nature throws at you this winter, you will want to have an emergency kit ready. Consider having these cold-weather specific items on hand:
    • A working, fully charged fire extinguisher.
    • An alternative heat source such as a generator, wood-burning stove, or fireplace.
    • Sand, ice melt, and a shovel if where you live is prone to ice and snow (avoid using kitty litter, as it doesn’t provide good traction and can make a mess).
    • You should also develop a plan for communicating or meeting up with family in case you aren’t together when a winter storm hits.

*AUCP does not own the rights to this document. Adapted from articles posted by Liberty Mutual.

New Testing Instrument Can Diagnose Concussions

Researchers have developed a blood test that can detect mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI), commonly called concussions, on the spot and within minutes and requiring only a single drop of blood….

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this year, the new device, named TBIcheck, is portable and doesn’t require a doctor to use.


Every year, approximately 2.8 million people are diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries in the U.S., which can vary from mild to severe.

Repetitive brain trauma can lead to the development of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease in which a protein called Tau spreads throughout the brain, killing brain cells and affecting mood and behavior.

CTE is notably common in athletes, who are regularly subject to head collisions. Over 300,000 children, age 19 or younger, are hospitalized annually due to head injuries sustained while playing sports.

In these cases, early, accurate and on-the-spot concussion diagnosis is particularly important. It is easy to imagine this instrument being put to use on the sidelines of professional and peewee games alike, ensuring that athletes who have sustained brain injuries don’t return to the game.
People with suspected head trauma can be tested for mild traumatic brain injury without having to go through a CT scan, which are not only untimely and expensive but expose the brain to potentially harmful radiation.

Approximately 90 percent of people who go to emergency rooms with suspected brain trauma return negative CT scans.

There are more school-aged kids participating in sports these days. Twenty years ago, head injuries weren’t being reported as frequently, but because they are now aware of it, head injuries are being diagnosed more often.”

Worries about the care that adults are receiving after a head trauma, like in a car accident are also a concern. Many adult patients who suffer a traumatic brain injury rarely receive follow-up care after being discharged from a hospital emergency room. A lot of people who go into hospitals after an car accident return three months, six months, 12 months later struggling to function. The non-sport concussion diagnoses are often neglected.

Brain injuries and concussions can alter mood, balance and affect cognitive abilities. Sometimes symptoms can last for years or become permanent.

There is still some confusion of what to do. Some common myths about the diagnosis and treatment of concussions are the following:

Myth 1: Recovery requires a lot of time in a dark room.
For years, patients were told to avoid bright lights and screens as their head recovered from an injury. This is no longer recommended and can work against recovery. Now doctors try to get patients back into a normal routine sooner rather than later. Start slowly and work up to the regular hours routine. However, cell phone usage should be limited because looking at the screen too much is not good. Parents should still be aware of screen time with phones and computers. The eye movement is what makes symptoms worse.

Myth 2: Repeated hits to the head don’t have long-term impacts on the brain.
Researchers say it’s unclear how or when concussions can lead to long-term or permanent brain damage.

Myth 3: There’s no need for a brain checkup until you injure your head.
Physicians suggest that athletes come in for testing before the season starts. This way, doctors have information they can use from when a patient is healthy and performing normally to guide them during treatment in the case of a concussion.

Testing is always suggested and never wait to do so!

 

*AUCP does not own the rights to this document. Adapted from articles posted by the FDA on 2/18/18 and The University Network in August of 2018.

Online Voter Registration (OVR)

 

Governor Tom Wolf marked the third anniversary of the inauguration of on line voter registration (OVR) in the commonwealth. The reform has made it easier and more convenient for Pennsylvanians to register to vote.

Since Aug. 27, 2015, 1,092,407 Pennsylvanians have taken advantage of online voter registration to file new voter registrations and 426,489 to make changes to their existing registrations at register.votesPA.com

Pennsylvania’s OVR system, available in English and Spanish. It is more secure because electronic applications go directly to the county voter registration office. Paper applications go through several hands before reaching the correct destination. The OVR system contains the latest in security and is constantly monitored and updated.
In addition, state and county election officials have found that electronic voter registration applications have improved accuracy, reduced time-consuming data entry and provided cost savings to the state.

October 1, 2018 was #NationalVoterRegistrationDay. Register to vote at: register.votesPA.com

*AUCP does not own the rights to this document. Adapted from PA Govenor News, posted on August 27th, 2018.

Resurface PA Initiative 2018

PennDOT has made great progress with its goals to repave work on interstates and attack potholes across Pennsylvania. PennDOT has increased the speed of it work to reach to roads and highways throughout the state that we would not have been able to reach in a regular maintenance year.”
Under the Resurface PA initiative, PennDOT will work across the state’s 40,000 miles of PennDOT-maintained roads, the nation’s fifth largest system. Altogether there are 17 interstate paving and preservation projects covering 255 miles happen at least two years sooner than scheduled, with projects beginning this year and next year. These projects, which will preserve the pavement surfaces for at least five to six years, build on the 85 interstate projects covering more than 775 miles that are underway or expected to begin or finish this year.

Motorists can report potholes and other highway-maintenance concerns on state routes at www.customercare.penndot.gov or by calling PennDOT’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-FIX-ROAD (1-800-349-7623). Be as specific as possible when providing locations of maintenance concerns. Report the county, municipality, street name, and state route number, which can be found on small black and white signs posted along state highways. In addition, a description of any familiar landmarks would be helpful for PennDOT to locate the problem area.

Maintenance concerns will be corrected as soon as possible. Emergency road repairs, such as road wash-outs, are handled on a top-priority basis.

The 1-800-FIX-ROAD number should not be used to report traffic accidents, disabled vehicles or other emergencies. Motorists should continue to call 911 to report these types of emergencies.

 

*AUCP does not own the rights to this document. Adapted from PA Govenor News, posted on September 17th, 2018.

The Opioid Epidemic

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Governor Tom Wolf announced that Pennsylvania will receive a $55.9 million State Opioid Response (SOR) grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The Wolf administration was highly motivated to acquire and once awarded the grant was directed to the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) to administer the grant.
“I’m incredibly proud of the work Pennsylvania is doing to battle the heroin and opioid epidemic and this grant will help significantly as we continue that fight, allowing us to increase the types of initiatives we implement and expanding our reach for prevention, treatment, and recovery,” Gov. Wolf said.

Pennsylvania’s focus is attacking the epidemic of opioid use disorder, knowing that it needs to remove the stigma of the disease of addiction and increase the programs and build new ones to provide more treatment, more access to community supports, and more success stories to ultimately win this battle.

 

*AUCP does not own the rights to this document. Adapted from PA Govenor News, posted on September 20th, 2018.