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/ 

Weather Safety Tips

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Extreme heat happens when temperatures are much hotter and/or there is more humidity than normal. The following tips and links will help you and your loved ones stay safe during dangerous heat waves.

  • Stay indoors in air conditioning as much as possible.
  • Drink plenty of water during the day – don’t wait until you are thirsty!
  • Outdoor workers should drink between two and four cups of water every hour while working.
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar.
  • Limit your outdoor activity to mornings and evenings and rest often in the shade.
  • Wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothing, a hat, sunglasses and an SPF15 or higher sunscreen.
  • Check on those who may be more at risk from high temperatures like:
    • Infants and young children
    • People aged 65 or older
    • People with chronic medical conditions
    • Never leave your children or pets in a vehicle.
  • Know the following symptoms of heat stroke, a life-threatening, heat-related illness:
    • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
    • Red, hot and dry skin (no sweating)
    • Rapid, strong pulse
    • Throbbing headache
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Confusion
    • Unconsciousness
  • If you think someone has a heat stroke:
    • Call for emergency medical attention
    • Get the victim to a shady area
    • Cool the person rapidly (put them in a tub of cool water, place them in a cool shower, spray them with a garden hose, sponge them with cool water, etc.)
    • Do not give the victim any fluids (like water) to drink
  • Know the symptoms of heat exhaustion:
    • Heavy sweating
    • Paleness (skin is a lighter color than normal)
    • Muscle cramps
    • Tiredness
    • Weakness
    • Dizziness
    • Headache
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Fainting
  • Help the victim cool off and seek medical attention if:
    • Symptoms are severe
    • Symptoms last more than one hour
    • The victim has heart problems or high blood pressure

During extremely hot weather, “cooling stations” may be opened across Pennsylvania for individuals without air conditioning. To find out if there are cooling stations in your area, please contact the appropriate agency below.

Pennsylvania’s 52 Area Agencies on Aging (AAA)
Allegheny County Health Department
412-578-8026
Allentown Bureau of Health
610-437-7760
Bethlehem Health Bureau
610-865-7087
Bucks County Department of Health
215-345-3318
Chester County Health Department
610-344-6225
Erie County Department of Health
814-451-6700
Montgomery County Health Department
610-278-5117
Philadelphia Department of Public Health
215-686-5000
Wilkes-Barre City Health Department
570-208-4268
York City Bureau of Health
717-849-2252/2299

To view a PDF version of this article, click here.

Source: PA Department of Health

Bellow’s Fund – Diana Kylor

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Dianne Kylor from Hesston, PA was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2003 which resulted in laryngectomy to remove her voice box. Fortunately, Dianne is now cancer free, however, now she has to use an artificial larynx that she presses against her throat to be able to communicate.

Servox Digital XL

Just like any type of equipment, the larynx wears down after awhile and it needs to be replaced. However, the technology is costly. This left Dianne in a situation where she was using the same Servox Digital larynx for close to five years and her ability to communicate with it was steadily getting worse. Dianne’s husband said that they “pushed through as long as they could” because they just didn’t have the funds to purchase a new one.

This is when her AUCP Service Coordinator, Terri Feather, reached out about the UCP Elsie S. Bellows fund, a national program offering grants to help people buy Assistive Technology equipment. Terri knew that Dianne needed a new artificial larynx to be able to communicate, so she worked with her to submit an application. A few weeks later, the application was approved and we were able to use the grant money to purchase a Servox Digital XL for Dianne.

The UCP Elsie S. Bellows fund is a phenomenal resource to individuals in need of assistive technology. The funds are granted through an application that each UCP affiliate, like AUCP, has access to. If you, or someone you know, is in a situation similar to Dianne, you can contact AUCP today to find out how to submit an application.

Phone Extensions

cell phoneAs of July 1st, Alleghenies United Cerebral Palsy will no longer have phone extensions for most of our staff. If you would like to contact your Service Coordinator, you will be able to contact them via their company cell phone. All phone numbers are now listed here on our website. You can also call our main office at 844-819-4455 to be transferred to your Coordinator.

Participant Highlight – Gregg Sheaffer

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Gregg's Promotions

Gregg Sheaffer is a 52 year-old from State College, PA. Gregg has been a participant on our Autism Waiver for about 9 years and this month we would like to introduce you to him.

If you are in State College around Penn State University, you might see Gregg walking around handing out flyers and coupons to the public. That’s because 8 years ago Gregg began his own company called “Gregg’s Promotions.” It all started because he enjoyed volunteering to hand out flyers, so he decided to make a job out of it. Today, he has a plethora of business clients that give him wonderful reviews and know him as being dependable and polite. Gregg’s favorite parts of his job are walking around the community and getting to see and talk to people. He receives a lot of support from his community, friends, and family.

If you’re interested in learning more about Gregg’s business or to contact him, you can visit his Facebook page.

July Staff Highlight

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valerie johnston

This month, we are happy to introduce you to Valerie Johnston. Valerie has been a Service Coordinator with AUCP for the past five and a half years, working out of her home in Clearfield county. The Johnstown office gets the pleasure of seeing Valerie at least once a week when she travels to the office to work.

Valerie graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) with a dual major in Psychology and Criminology. She has been married to her husband, Dale, for 31 years and together they have a daughter, Alysia, and a son, Justin. If it were up to Valerie, she would be full-time “Mammy J” to her grandson, Nash. When she’s not busy with work and chasing her grandson around, Valerie enjoys gardening, four-wheeling, traveling, and striving to be happy and worry less.

Currently, Valerie serves Clearfield, Jefferson, Centre, Clinton, Clarion, Lycoming and Forest counties. She says she loves being a Service Coordinator and enjoys working with her participants and their family members. The most challenging part of her position is keeping up with the paperwork and notes that accompany the work.

Valerie is funny and is a team player. She is quick to offer assistance to other staff and is very knowledgeable about the job and services provided.

Cancer Survivor’s Day 2019

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On Sunday, June 2nd, cancer survivors and supports will come together to celebrate life and raise awareness on National Cancer Survivors Day.

A few of our staff members have been touched in significant ways by cancer and this year we would like to honor them for their strength and determination in battling their cancer diagnoses. Click on their names below to read their full story.

Tina Trimbath, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Katelyn McClain, Breast Cancer
Linda Freidhoff, Breast Cancer

Participant Highlight – Kenny Dyer

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Kenneth “Kenny” Dyer, a 53 year-old, father of three, from the South Hills of Pittsburgh lived his life without expecting to one day be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), “an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.” However, you could ask ten different people living with MS about how it is affecting their lives and you would get ten different stories.

For Kenny, he went 5 to 6 years without any diagnosis just assuming that the symptoms he was having were as a result of stress and getting older. However, in 2016 he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease. Within two years he was bound to a wheelchair, had to stop working, and relocated to Westmoreland, PA to live with his sister because he was unable to live independently.

Prior to his diagnosis, Kenny’s middle son, who was around 11 at the time, was diagnosed with cancer. Kenny remembers telling his son everyday “you are gonna get up, you are gonna fight, and you are going to win.” Kenny did not realize that one day he was going to have to practice what he preached. He decided he was not going to “curl up in a ball” and let the disease take control, he was going to continue making the best of his life. Even though he is inconvenienced by a wheelchair, he realizes that it could be much worse and that some people would give their lives to be in the position that he’s in.

One of the best compliments that he has ever received was from a friend saying, “the biggest difference between you (Kenny) and other people living with MS is that you are not giving up.” Each day, Kenny gets up and goes about his day, he gets to the gym three days a week, and does not allow himself to make excuses.

Currently, Kenny’s MS is stabilized with the help of medication and infusions.  His goal is to one day not need a wheelchair and begin using a walker or cane. He wants people to remember him as someone who doesn’t quit and is able to make people smile. When asked what advice he would give to the past Kenny, it would be to go to the doctor, so many things he faces today could have been prevented if he would have just followed the warning signs. Advice that he would offer to anyone recently diagnosed with MS is that “It’s not a death sentence. Yes, it’s a life sentence, but it’s not the end.”

June Staff Highlight

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Teil UhringFor the month of June, we would like to introduce you to Teil Uhring, a Service Coordinator out of our Pittsburgh office serving Allegheny County through UPMC Community HealthChoices. Teil graduated from Clarion University with her B.S. in Rehabilitative Sciences, is currently working towards her M.S. in Clinical Counseling, and hopes to one day obtain a Ph. D. When she is not busy with work and school, Teil enjoys reading, cooking, and being outside as much as possible.

Teil has worked at AUCP for two years now and aside from helping people, she loves the team approach that we offer and the support system it offers to the staff. The most challenging part about being a service coordinator is remembering that they are not to fix problems for the participants, but rather provide the tools to do so. If she were not a service coordinator, Teil would like to work with at-risk adolescents or in a women’s shelter.

Teil is known as being diligent and great with critical cases. She is a fantastic trainer and peer to her colleagues. All of us agree that she is a valuable part of our AUCP family and are excited for all that her future has in store.