Community Fund Success Story

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A few months ago we received a Community Fund application for one of our participants, Joyce Wilbur. Due to Joyce’s lymphedema and knee surgeries, she was having problems with swelling in her legs and was in need of a certain type of compression stockings. Unfortunately, her insurance was unable to pay for them and after reaching out to other community resources, she was still left without the stockings that she needed. That’s when her AUCP AmeriHealth service coordinator submitted an application on her behalf.

Upon reviewing Joyce’s unique situation and seeing that these compression socks were something that she needed for her health and safety, AUCP was able to provide a grant through their Community Fund to pay for the compression stockings. After receiving the stockings, Joyce was very pleased and so grateful. Compression stockings, although a seemingly small need, make a huge difference in her everyday life. She says that they have helped with the swelling of her legs and she is able to walk more with them on. This is great news for Joyce and now she is able to focus more on her everyday needs and health with her coordinator.

 

If you would like to learn more about AUCP’s Community Fund or would like to review the application process, click here.

November Staff Highlight

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Our November staff highlight is Jessica Pulliam Petrunak from Windber, PA. Jessica has been with the agency for 5 years starting out as a Service Coordinator, to Lead Staff, to Supervisor, and recently promoted to Programs Manager.

Jessica graduated from Penn State University with an A.S. in Human Development and Family Studies and a B.A. in Organizational Leadership with a minor in Sociology. She has been married to her husband, Mike, for 8 years and they adopted a dog named Willie 3 years ago (pictured above.) Some of her favorite hobbies include cooking and crafting. Her biggest goal in life is to never stop learning and evolving as a person. Her colleagues would say that if she didn’t work at AUCP, she should work for Google, but Jessica says she’d love to teach at a high school or college level.

Her favorite part about working at AUCP is that everyday is completely different and it keeps her on her toes. The thing she finds most challenging about her position is the same thing she finds most rewarding and that is supporting staff through their own challenges and barriers.

Ask any of her coworkers and they would agree that Jessica is often the first person they turn to when in a pinch or need assistance in navigating through a difficult situation. Jessica is a wellspring of knowledge and can quickly generate new and useful ideas. She is well respected amongst our staff and is a compassionate and tactful leader. We appreciate her humor and ability to create an atmosphere of growth.

Participant Highlight – Michael Kiel

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When he was just 19-years-old and a college sophomore, Michael Kiel just so happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. On a mid-April night in 1993, Michael was shot in the side of the neck outside of a convenience store, leaving him completely paralyzed from the neck down. This occurrence may have changed the entire trajectory of his life, but it did not change who he is at his core.

Michael has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Masters degree in Rehab Counseling. Today, he works as a Rehab Specialist for the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation at the Hiram G. Andrews Center in Johnstown, PA. His job is to work with other individuals with disabilities that are attending vocational school and he assists the students in identifying life obstacles. In his free time, Mike enjoys playing chess with his nephews and being with his friends and family. He has come to realize that who he is with is always more important than what they are doing. 

Over the last 20-some years, Michael has had a lot of time to think about his perspective on life, find a special sense of humor, and share his story with those around him. As a way to cope with his injury, Mike began to write about his life events before, during, and after his spinal-cord injury. In August of this year, he released his first book, “Challenge the Moment”, which is available for purchase on Amazon and in-store at Classic Elements in downtown Johnstown. This book serves as a memoir full of stories of his life and is said to be “brutally honest and painfully descriptive,” and at the same time “relentlessly positive, funny, and charming.” Michael says it offers a broader perspective on life and encourages the readers to enjoy the journey along the way.

As an agency that works with people with all forms of disabilities, whether they are disabled since birth or due to some sort of tragedy, we have to agree with Mike that perspective is such an important attribute to how one goes throughout their life. When we asked Mike what piece of advice he would give to our readers, he responded in the following quote:

“There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps, for the rest of our lives, we will be unwilling to settle for less.” 

– Kurt Hahn

Thanks for being willing to share your story, Michael – there’s so much to be learned from the stories you’ve allowed the world to experience through your words.

 

Follow Mike on Social Media:

Facebook | Twitter  | Instagram

October Staff Highlight

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This month’s Staff Highlight is Corri McGinnis, from Team UPMC Healthchoices. Corri has worked with us for almost 3 year,

currently serving the Johnstown, Seward, and New Florence locations. She has a dual major in Public Health and Psychology from Slippery Rock University. One day, Corri would like to get a Master’s Degree in epidemiology and study the trends of diseases, as well as, our responses to public health concerns.

Corri lives in Strongstown, PA with her fiancé Jason, their 3 cats (Shadow, Foxy, and Mr. Fix It), and their two dogs (Gracie and Wrangler). Some things that Corri enjoys doing include going to concerts, seeing plays and musicals with her friends, as well as, being outdoors going kayaking, hiking, and biking. Her biggest goal in life is to travel as much as possible and experience new things. When they’re not working on house projects, Corri and her fiancé enjoy camping or planning their next vacation. This past June they traveled to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee where they hiked a total of 35 miles and even got engaged!

Corri says that there are many things she enjoys about working with AUCP, but her top reasons include interacting with her participants and feeling like she is a part of a team that wants to make a difference in the community. The most challenging part of her position is the constant changes under the MCO’s.

There are so many wonderful things to say about Corri, she is truly a team player and cares about both her participants and her coworkers. With her cheerful personality and kind demeanor, Corri is a great benefit to our agency.

September Staff Highlight

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Each month, one of our favorite things to do is highlight one of our staff members. We take pride in the awesome work that they do and want to take a moment to show them off.

This month, we’d like to recognize Emily Chawtek. Currently, Emily works under the UPMC Community HealthChoices as a Service Coordinator in Blair County. Previously, Emily was our Referral Specialist walking individuals through the enrollment process and connecting them to available community resources.

Born in Pittsburgh, Emily now lives in Altoona with her husband, their 3 year-old daughter named Lucy (whom she’s pictured with on the right), and Bonzo the boxer. Emily graduated from Shippensburg University with a major in Sociology and a minor in Women’s Studies. When she’s not busy working, Emily enjoys crocheting, reading, swimming, and playing hide and seek. Her biggest goal in life is to travel as much as possible.

Emily has worked at AUCP for the past 7 years and says that her favorite part of being a coordinator is getting to know her participants and the resources Blair County has to offer. The most challenging part of her position is the paperwork! If she weren’t a coordinator she’d like to be a teacher.

Ask anyone and they would agree that Emily is phenomenal at any job that she does. She is known as having a super kind personality and her peers look to her for her honesty and helpfulness. Emily, thanks for all that you do. We enjoy having you as part of our team!

How Many Fruits and Veggies Do You Really Need?

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Many Americans still don’t get enough fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods.

If money and time are concerns, your favorite drive-through donut and coffee place in the morning and the closest fast-food chain for dinner might seem to better fit your schedule and budget, even if you know these foods aren’t nutritious. You may feel it’s just too hard to get the suggested five or more servings of fruits and veggies every day, and maybe you’ve even given up trying. In either case, results of a large global study should encourage you to reboot your efforts to eat healthier.

The study examined eating patterns of people across 18 countries and how fruits, vegetables and legumes (beans, dried peas and lentils) affected mortality and heart health. Results confirmed that eating these healthy foods lowers the risk for heart disease, heart attacks and early death. They also showed you can get such benefits with just three or four daily servings. Now, this isn’t to say that you should cut back if you’re getting more, but people who are getting little to none can aim to meet this more modest goal.

The studies offered other surprising findings. One is that eating more fruits, seeds and beans can be as good for you as eating more vegetables — that’s good news for those who just can’t wrap their taste buds around broccoli and kale. And when you do have veggies, it’s better to eat most of them raw to get the most nutrients from them. The exceptions are foods rich in lycopene (like tomatoes) and beta carotene (like sweet potatoes and carrots), for which cooking seems to enhance the “bioavailability” of these nutrients, or the amount of which can be absorbed by the body and used.


Copyright © 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

AUCP 2019 Summer Picnic

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On Friday, July 26th we invited our staff and their family members out to Raystown for our 2019 Company Picnic. The day was welcomed by beautiful weather and the opportunity to get to know their coworkers from other offices through conversation and team building activities.

We also took a moment to recognize the staff that are celebrating their work anniversary milestones of 1, 5, and 10 years. (Pictured to the left) 

To end out the day we invited our staff to the WildRiver Waterpark at Lake Raystown Resort for a day full of water slides and relaxation.

To all of our staff, thanks for all of the hard work you do each day.

We hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did.

View more photos here.

July Blood Drive Update

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There is an emergency need for blood across the United States with someone new needing blood every 2 seconds. So, on Monday, July 8th we held a Red Cross Blood Drive in the Community Room at our Johnstown location.

Throughout the day, we had 14 donors, both staff and community members, stop by to make their blood donation. We also had 9 volunteers that gave a few hours out of their day to ensure that the day went smoothly. By the end of the day we had 9 successful blood donations. This means up to 27 peoples lives were impacted! A big “Thank You!” goes out to each person that came out to the drive, we could not have done it without you.

If you couldn’t make it out to the blood drive, you have until September 2nd to be part of our drive. Schedule a donation today at your local Red Cross. While you’re at it, snap a selfie and tag us on all of your social media platforms with #iBleedforAUCP!

August Staff Highlight

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You might remember that about a year and a half ago we merged with an agency in the Hanover area. This merger gave us the opportunity to hire on some of their great staff, among them was Jessica Backus. Jessica now serves as our Office Manager and holds down the fort at our Hanover office.

Jessica is a graduate from Shippensburg University with a major in Psychology. Currently, she lives in Gettysburg, PA. A fun fact about Jess is that she is the youngest of five children! During her free time, she likes to keep busy by reading, watching movies and television, doing puzzles, and spending time with her family and friends. Jessica’s biggest goal in life is to go back to school to receive her Master’s degree and work as a Criminologist.

At AUCP, Jessica loves the great team atmosphere that she works in. Jessica also ensures that our policies and processes are accurate for each program. She says that this is the most challenging part of her position, but we think that there’s no better person for the job because of her attention to detail and superb writing abilities.

Jessica is a fun addition to our team and has greatly attributed to the quality of our agency.

4 Tips to Stay Healthy Around Your Pet

Posted on  by Casey Barton Behravesh, MS, DVM, DrPH, DACVPM, Director, One Health Office, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases

Pets, whether covered in fur, feathers, or scales, are an important part of our lives—most American households own at least one pet. Many people see their pet as a member of the family that brings joy and amusement to their life. But did you know that having a pet can even help improve your health? Having a pet can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and feelings of loneliness. Pets can also encourage you to be active and get outside, and provide opportunities to socialize.

While there are many benefits to pet ownership, animals can sometimes carry germs that make us sick. Zoonotic diseases can spread between people and animals—even our pets. In the past decade, we’ve seen outbreaks of illness in people linked to pets such as puppies, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, turtles, lizards, geckos, hedgehogs, and even water frogs.

You might not realize that the everyday activities involved in caring for your pet can result in the spread of germs from pets to people. Handling pet food and toys, cleaning cages, and yes, even kissing your pet, can pass germs from the pet to you. Pets can spread germs even if they look clean and healthy.

All of this may sound scary, but knowing about zoonotic diseases and the simple things you can do to reduce the risk will help you enjoy your pets and stay healthy. Adopt these four simple habits to help you, your family, and your pets stay healthy and happy.

  1. Choose the right pet
    Not all pets are right for all people. In addition to thinking about the pet’s needs, consider who will be around the pet at home. Are there young kids in the house, or maybe a relative over 65? Certain pets, including reptiles, amphibians, and rodents, are not recommended for children 5 years of age and younger, adults 65 years of age and older, and people with weakened immune systems because they’re more likely to get sick. Rodents and cats can carry diseases that cause birth defects, so think about waiting to adopt one of these pets if you or someone in your home is pregnant. Talk to your veterinarian about choosing the right pet.
  2. Keep your pet healthy
    Keeping your pet healthy helps to keep you healthy. Make sure pets get a good diet, fresh water, shelter, and exercise. Regular veterinary care is also important for your pet. Many pets need routine vaccinations, de-worming, and flea and tick control to protect them, and their owners, from certain diseases. Every pet—whether it’s a dog, cat, hamster, ferret, or iguana—should receive life-long veterinary care. If you think your pet might be sick, talk to your veterinarian. Also, remember to include your pets in your emergency preparedness plans so you can keep them safe and healthy in an emergency.
  3. Practice good hygiene
    Washing your hands is one of the best ways to stay healthy around pets and can also protect you against other diseases. Always wash your hands after playing with, feeding, or cleaning up after your pet. Pets can contaminate surfaces in your home with germs—you don’t have to touch your pets to get sick from the germs they might be carrying. Keep your pets away from people food and areas where food and drink are prepared, served, consumed, or stored. Always clean up dog feces (poop) from your yard and public areas to prevent the spread of parasites and other germs to people. If you’re pregnant and have a cat, avoid changing the litter box.
  4. Supervise kids around pets
    Always supervise young children around pets, even trusted family pets. Children, especially those 5 years of age and younger, can be at higher risk for pet-related illnesses because they often touch surfaces that may be contaminated, put objects in their mouths, and are less likely to wash their hands. Children are often the victims of bites and scratches and are more likely to get seriously ill from certain diseases spread from pets. Don’t let kids kiss pets or put their hands or objects in their mouths after playing with pets. Help them to wash their hands after they interact with any animal.

We all love our pets, but it’s important to know the risks that come with any animal contact, especially for people who are more vulnerable to certain diseases. Practicing healthy pet habits can help you enjoy your pets while staying healthy.

You can learn more about pets on CDC’s Healthy Pets Healthy People website, and be sure to check out this feature for more tips on staying healthy around pets.

 

Source: https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2018/05/national-pet-week/