Archive - January 2018

1
Help Me Grow – How to Find and Connect Families to Help
2
When to Visit, When to Stay Home
3
Take a Walk Around Downtown Morrisville
4
What Will This Cost?  
5
New Year! New, Tobacco-Free You! (or Family, Friend, Co-Worker or Employee)

Help Me Grow – How to Find and Connect Families to Help

By: Steve Ames

In my work as Building Bright Futures Regional Coordinator for the Lamoille Valley, I’ve been working to spread the word about Help Me Grow. Help Me Grow is the information and referral center for young families and kids that has recently been ramping up in Vermont.

A key component of Help Me grow is the call center. It’s part of the 211 System, and Child Development Specialists Elizabeth Gilman and Megan Fitzgerald are on the other end of the line (or text at 211*6).

The call center works closely with other agencies throughout the state. Though most calls come from families directly, sometimes they come from medical providers, or child care providers or family and friends. Calls run the gamut from “I missed my WIC appointment, do you know how late they’re open?” to wanting to have an in-depth discussion about a child’s development, or a request for potential help in the community for food or housing. There is significant value with the Help Me Grow system in that the calls can be anonymous, which lowers a caller’s fear, encourages them to really describe what they need, and allows trust to be built over time.

“The calls can be anonymous, which lowers a caller’s fear, encourages them to really describe what they need, and allows trust to be built over time.”

The Help Me Grow call center Child Development folks describe working with a mom with two children, one of whom receives special education services. The mom is a recent domestic violence survivor who had moved in with her family. The caller did not want to share information about herself or her kids on the first call, which was a request for help around food. She didn’t want to have to share her story repeatedly with service providers because she was concerned about being pitied or seen as not a good parent. The initial call with Help Me Grow was directed by the specialist to all the positive things the caller was doing as a parent –  how involved she was in her child’s Individualized Education Plan, the positive relationships she had with her parents, identifying some basic needs in her area, and how she might access resources. The specialist spoke specifically about Reach Up and how it might build on the strengths and resiliency she already had to transition her back to work. On that first call, she was not interested in seeking state assistance. However, after several calls and follow-ups, she went to a local food shelf and had a very positive experience, and some time later went to the Economic Services office to sign up for help.

Often families don’t have built-in supports that the caller described above did. Elizabeth, one of the two Child Development specialists at Help Me Grow, has reached out to families referred from medical providers when the families are hesitant or don’t respond to calls from Children’s Integrated Services. Elizabeth often works with the medical provider and Children’s Integrated Services (CIS) to ensure that the referred family is getting connected. Often it can take several months for families to feel comfortable and safe enough to try accessing support services like CIS.

Help Me Grow is working on a more intentional partnership with CIS. Recently, a family was referred to Help Me Grow by a physician. The family has two young children, ages 2 and 4, and their doctor had developmental concerns about both. Elizabeth called the parent and they completed CIS referral together over the phone. Elizabeth got permission to share information with the medical provider, CIS, and school district from the caller. Then she worked together to pursue Early Intervention for the younger child and school-based services for the older child. Help Me Grow was able to make the referral to the school district directly so CIS staff could focus on the Early Intervention work for the younger child. Then Help Me Grow followed up with the physician to let them know that the connection had been made and that the kids had begun to get the supports their physician knew they needed.

Text the letters HMGVT (in the body of the message) to the (short) phone number 898211.

When providers refer families to Help Me Grow, they have to let the family know and get their permission for follow up. Help Me Grow never cold calls a family. The Help Me Grow referral form requires providers who complete it to confirm that they’ve talked to the referred family. The Help Me Grow referral form also lets a provider indicate if they’ve already made a referral directly to CIS as well, so that Help Me Grow can instead focus on connecting the family to wrap-around supports like playgroups, activities or basic needs, while they are going through the CIS referral process. There are some families who, even if referred to CIS, are hesitant to engage with anyone from the government, so having another option for engaging those families is critical. Help Me Grow is this option.

Understanding the depth of follow up through the call center is critical for community partners to understand. Help Me Grow is working to fill gaps and build connections over time with more difficult-to-reach families and eventually connect them to services. Those who resist getting help with their young children in need are difficult to find, and, when they don’t receive the help they need, problems often increase over time.

To make Help Me Grow even easier to connect with, the Child Development Specialists are available via text for families – folks can text the letters HMGVT (that’s what you send in the body of the message) to the shortcode (imagine this as a phone number) 898211.

Here is Help Me Grow’s super informative website. On it you can find the Referral form and lots of developmental information for young families as well as for providers of services:

http://helpmegrowvt.org

Here are two great smartphone apps, for both iPhones and for Android devices that are terrific ways to get more information about your child’s development:

http://www.joinvroom.org

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones-app.html


As the Regional Coordinator for Building Bright Futures, Steve staffs The Lamoille Valley Building Bright Futures Regional Council, a volunteer committee focused on the well being of young children and their families. There is one such Council in each of twelve regions of the State. Steve also works with the Playroom in Morrisville. He writes about early childhood, families, community, play, and equity.

When to Visit, When to Stay Home

By: Mary L. Collins

My great aunt was well into her 90’s when she passed away some years ago. She was an independent, active person who continued to work as a volunteer at her church, walking the three blocks from home, up the steep steps of the cathedral’s entry, spending many hours there multiple times a week to dust the pews – of which there were hundreds. She also mowed her own lawn – with a push mower – the old-fashioned kind that relied not on a gas-powered engine, but on physical strength.

You might say she had an indomitable spirit. She did, indeed. But she did not have an indomitable body.

When my great aunt passed away in the spring of the year, it followed two weeks of sickness due to a cold that evolved into pneumonia. That evolved into a hospital stay, and finally, sadly, her eventual passing. It is not uncommon for vulnerable elders to succumb to pneumonia. Respiratory illnesses younger persons can more easily recover from are often extremely risky when contracted by an elder.

This is not an alarmist’s tale, but one of practicality and consideration. Given that flu season is upon us, and with the recent frigid temperatures, it’s especially important that the most vulnerable among us are shielded in all the ways that we can provide it from exposure to illness. It is essential to be vaccinated and be provided proper medical care to prevent outbreaks of the flu and other airborne illnesses, but it is equally important to be aware of one’s exposure.

It will probably come as no surprise that my great aunt had been exposed to someone who visited her when they were still experiencing flu-like symptoms.  Those of us who are younger and often “tough it out” when we are sick do not always recognize when we might still be contagious to others and when we might risk putting a more vulnerable loved one in harm’s way. Contagious winter illnesses can create a real risk for the elderly, young children and the more vulnerable among us. It is not our intent to cause harm, but we sometimes do so without knowing.

At The Manor, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center and residence to approximately 88 vulnerable elderly people at any given time, staff education, and training is critical to maintaining a safe environment for residents, staff and visitors alike. Policies and procedures are in place for staff who are taught what are “best practices” when working with residents who may have shown symptoms that could be contagious. In closed environments like The Manor, it is critical that these procedures be followed to minimize the risk to residents, visitors, and fellow staff.  According to Staff Educator and Infection Preventionist, Nicole Keaty, RN,

“We are working very hard to keep our residents and staff healthy at all times but especially during the winter months when Flu and other viruses are more prevalent. We ask the community’s help in this effort. We love to see family and friends visit the residents but we strongly encourage that if you are ill, feeling under the weather, or have family members who are ill, it may be better to not visit.”

Getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. It’s not too late to schedule yours. Contact your health care provider to find out what’s best for you.

Keaty offered a few tips on what works best when visiting a loved one during cold and Flu season. “Most viruses are contagious before we are having symptoms. If you do visit The Manor, we have hand sanitizer at our entrances as well as masks. These are for visitors’ use. We recommend that visitors sanitize upon entering and again when you leave so you don’t bring anything home with you.” She offered that masks are available for visitor’s use should you have a cough, cold or sore throat or if you are visiting a resident who has any respiratory illness. And, the tried and true recommendation of frequent handwashing is also one of the best things we all can do to prevent the spread of any viruses.

The public has a critical role in this prescription for health care management – and it is a simple one:

“If you are not feeling well or believe you may be suffering from a cold, Flu or other communicable illness; it is always best to err on the side of caution and NOT visit your loved one until you are no longer contagious.”

Your consideration of your loved ones includes your own self-care. By keeping yourself healthy, you also protect the people you love most.


Mary L. Collins is the Marketing Director at Lamoille Home Health & Hospice. A 2014 Home Care Elite Top Agency, LHH&H is one of eleven VNAs of Vermont home health and hospice agencies serving Vermont. She also serves as Marketing Director at The Manor, a 4 star nursing home and short term rehabilitation facility in Morrisville, VT, and she chairs the Lamoille Region Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. 

Take a Walk Around Downtown Morrisville

By: Todd Thomas

walk around historic Morrisville Vermont

Thanks to funding from the Morristown Alliance for Culture and Commerce (MACC), there will soon be another great reason to take a walk around downtown Morrisville. In the next few months, beautiful new street signs will appear throughout the downtown. These signs will be very different than the traditional green road signs with white lettering that Vermonters are used to. As you can see in the above photo, downtown Morrisville’s sleek new street signs will highlight the historical significance of our downtown business district. The signs will be topped with a black border that includes the words “Morrisville Historic District” in white lettering. Below the black border, the actual street sign will be brown and utilize white lettering.(Brown signs are typically used to depict historic sites and national parks.) Morrisville’s Historic District is nationally recognized and deserves the same treatment.

In addition to the different coloring, because street signs located within a historic district do not have to meet typical state and federal requirements, Morrisville’s new street signs will be bilingual. Highlighting the French-Canadian heritage of Morrisville, notice the French word for street “rue” before “Portland” in the photo. All of the new historic district street signs will begin with either the French word for street, avenue or even “heights” – given the need for a street sign for Jersey Heights. In addition to celebrating our town’s heritage, the bilingual street signs are meant to be welcoming to French-Canadian tourists, as well as the few dozen French-Canadian second-home owners that already have property in Morrisville. Hopefully, this small effort to be welcoming will result in more Canadian money being spent in Morrisville’s historic district!

I am not sure about the French-Canadians, but most Americans probably made a New Year’s resolution to lose a few pounds in the coming weeks. As a way to burn off some calories and lose a few of these undesired pounds, please consider taking a walk around downtown Morrisville to check out the new and fabulous historic district street signs. Morrisville’s nationally recognized historic district is a great reason to get off your couch and rediscover downtown Morrisville.

And with the new bilingual street signs, some town residents may even learn a little French while they shed some of those unwanted holiday pounds! C’est fantastique!


Todd Thomas has a Master’s Degree in City Planning from Boston University and has worked both in Massachusetts and Vermont as a consultant and as a land use planner for town government. Todd is currently the Planning Director for Morristown, Vermont.

Todd’s recent work includes helping to revitalize downtown Morrisville, making it the fastest growing city and/or historic downtown in the State since the 2010 Census. Todd attributes much of the downtown’s housing and population growth to zoning reform as it relates to minimum parking requirements.

What Will This Cost?  

By: Leah Hollenberger

Healthcare how much will it cost
Buying healthcare isn’t like shopping for clothes or groceries. The question ‘What will this cost?’ is not easily answered, particularly for inpatient stays and outpatient procedures. The answer can be difficult because charges vary by hospital. They vary due to the types of services each hospital provides and the mix of patients it sees. It is also complicated by how our healthcare reimbursement system operates.

So what can you do? The best way to find out what the hospital will charge for a proposed treatment or test is to contact the hospital’s Patient Financial Department or the Billing Department. They’ll ask for information about the proposed treatment or test and will be able to provide you with an estimate of what will be charged. They can also help you determine how much deductible, co-pay, and any amount not covered by insurance for which you may be responsible. It will be a range because every person responds differently to treatment and it is difficult to predict in advance all of the supplies and services you may end up receiving. The other thing to remember is that everyone is charged the same price but most people do not pay the full amount because they are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance. Hospitals also offer financial assistance and the financial counselor/billing staff can help you apply for assistance and/or help you set up a payment plan. At Copley, you can reach our patient financial counselors at 888-8336.

Another tool is the Vermont Hospital Report Card on the Vermont Department of Health’s website: http://healthvermont.gov/health-statistics-vital-records/health-care-systems-reporting/hospital-report-cards. Here you can compare the average charge for inpatient stays, outpatient procedures, and charges for common outpatient services and visits. Be aware that the most current data is for Outpatient Services and Visits; it is from 2017. The data for Inpatient Stays and Outpatient Procedures is from 2015; it lags a few years because they are based on claims data and it takes time to aggregate the group of charges that make up the overall cost for a specific type of inpatient stay or outpatient procedure.

Hospital rates change each year, so if you are seeking an estimate for an inpatient stay or outpatient procedure, you may want to contact the hospital’s billing office to get a more up-to-date estimate.

Price is but one factor when considering where to go for your healthcare services. Other factors that people consider is the relationship they have with their doctor, quality measures such as rate of successful outcomes and infection control, transportation, and how easy it is for family and friends to visit or assist. All of these factors are important when considering healthcare. The best thing about considering all of these factors is that it means you are an informed patient taking an active part in making the right choice for you.


Leah Hollenberger is the Vice President of Marketing, Development, and Community Relations for Copley Hospital. A former award-winning TV and Radio producer, she is the mother of two and lives in Morrisville. Her free time is spent volunteering, cooking, playing outdoors, and producing textile arts. Leah writes about community events, preventive care, and assorted ideas to help one make healthy choices.

New Year! New, Tobacco-Free You! (or Family, Friend, Co-Worker or Employee)

By: Alison Link

For many of us, the New Year has become a time of resolutions and goal setting. In this post, we want to share smoking and tobacco cessation stories and resources to encourage all who may be considering quitting smoking or reducing exposure to second-hand smoke. In Vermont, three behaviors – one being tobacco use – lead to four chronic diseases (cancer, heart disease, lung disease and diabetes) result in over 50% of deaths. (Learn more here.)

802 Quits

Vermont quit smoking resourceAs we know, behavior change is difficult. So what factors help those who are using tobacco make the shift in their stage of change from pre-contemplation or contemplation to action, making a quit plan and implementing it with the support they need? What follows here are a couple of personal stories of those impacted by 802 Quits.

This fall, Hiata Kirby, a Healthy Lamoille Valley staff member, was searching our website for upcoming edits, a process that led her to http://802quits.org. A smoker of 12 years, she wondered how the site worked and how it could help her. As she continued deeper into the 802 Quits website links and articles, she thought, “I can do this!” and started making a plan. She set a quit date 3 weeks away as the prompts on the site helped her to think through choosing a realistic quit date. The site also helped her plan for what she would do when having a craving and identify the nicotine replacement therapy (gum, patches, and/or lozenges) she wanted to use. She was able to place an order to have them mailed to her in time for her quit date.

This New Year’s Eve, she will be 4 months smoke-free with many thanks to her husband and son who have encouraged her to quit. It’s not easy, but Hiata reports taking lots of deep breaths, and being extra vigilant. She is grateful for the free nicotine replacement, and that it arrived in advance of her quit date. The arrival of the products was another day that she looked forward to within the process. Reflecting on her experience thus far with 802 Quits, Hiata said,

“I think the thing I liked the most about 802 Quits and quitting… and my best advice to others hoping to quit, is to make a plan. It takes a long time to break a habit…stay busy and figure out how to not have nicotine in your life. My incentive is the health part and my family.”

Hiata is not alone in this appreciation for the support and free quit products offered by 802 Quits. Casey Dewey, Development Coordinator at Green Mountain Support Services, quit recently through a class offered in conjunction with 802 Quits and Vermont Quit Partners at her workplace. She said,

“802 Quits was very helpful. It made it financially affordable to quit. It would have been cheaper in the moment to keep smoking. It was important to be able to quit with people I know and who I used to smoke with in the past. Now, we go for walks and still make the time for that few minutes break.”

Hiata and Casey both mentioned that they still take a break, just not a smoke break. Instead, it’s an outside break, often with a social component and sometimes a walk. Planning in advance for the free nicotine replacement products was very helpful for both of them, as well as the planning for the next round in advance. Whether using 802 Quits online or through a class, those connected to the program feel supported. 

Local Classes Starting in January

If you are interested in a local cessation class, two classes are starting in January. Classes run for 4 weeks and provide 8 weeks of free nicotine replacement for those interested and a free gift card once the course is completed.

Erica Coats, of CHSLV coordinates the Lamoille Valley classes and shares the importance of the 802 Quits partnership. “802 Quits provide the community with resources and education surrounding how to quit and how to get connected with the resources. 802 Quits has been a great supporter for the cessation classes here in Lamoille county, providing participants with 8 weeks of free nicotine replacement as well as quit tools to help individuals be successful in their drive to quit tobacco.”

Kate Myerson, Tobacco Cessation Specialist and a Class Facilitator, adds, “Classes are a great way to learn from others going through the same thing without fear of judgment.”

January cessation class start dates:

  • January 10th – Cambridge Family Practice 5-6pm
  • January 18th – SASH building in Morrisville 5-6pm

**If you are an employer and interested in offering a cessation class at your workplace, please contact Erica at (802) 253-9171 or Alison at alison@healthylamoillevalley.org.

Sneak peak!

What to look out for in the next months from 802 Quits website:

  • A new look and updated website launch!
  • Based on customer feedback and research, 802 Quits will become more accessible for those interested in using the resource.
  • 802 Quits will help folks take action around cessation- quit on their own and get medication to help.
  • Quit Your Way! Regardless of how an individual wants to quit… on phone, in person, online, the website will have relevant and useful information. There will be opportunities to learn what to expect with and compare the different options.
  • 802 Quits can help those interested motivate themselves, learn why they smoke and create strategies to help with that, create a quit plan, and receive information on putting a plan into action.

 


Alison Link is the Policy and Community Outreach Coordinator for Healthy Lamoille Valley, where she spends two-thirds of her time working on the new tobacco prevention grant received from the Vermont Department of Health. Alison can also be found teaching courses at Johnson State College, volunteering with restorative justice programs and supporting individuals in valuing their time, staying healthy and enhancing their leisure lifestyles through her own initiative, The Leisure Link. Alison enjoys the quality of life in Vermont and lives in Morrisville with her husband, Rabbi David Fainsilber (of the Jewish Community of Greater Stowe) and their young children.