2019: The Year of the Ambassador!

GAO continues to grow and strengthen our Ambassador program. Symposiums and other engagement activities are currently underway–don’t miss your chance to get involved!

US Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) poses with Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro (center) and our Ambassadors of the Year at the 2018 Ambassador Awards trip in Washington, DC

When the Government Affairs Office (GAO) launched the Hearts for Home Care Ambassador program nearly ten years ago, we envisioned that each service office would have a designee who would essentially act as the GAO liaison for that office. How much we’ve grown! Today, our Ambassadors go above and beyond to be the voice for our staff and clients, and they truly exemplify the leadership and excellence qualities that have grown to be associated with the Ambassador program.

In 2018, GAO committed to a more robust and centralized grassroots program, including a stronger dedication to the Ambassador program. In 2019, under Grassroots Advocacy Manager Mike Sokoloski’s leadership, the program is set to have its strongest year yet. This year we will be sharing a new “Ambassador Dashboard” that will help our advocates stay engaged and track their progress, create more 30-minute advocacy Zoom trainings, and bring our top-performing advocates on an exclusive Ambassador Awards trip to Washington, DC in May!

Additionally, one of the most exciting changes we have underway is our newly-revamped state-by-state Ambassador Symposiums. Our Ambassador Symposiums are newly designed and structured to train rookie Ambassadors while simultaneously energizing more seasoned advocates. This year we are partnering with outside organizations and bringing in more legislative and client guest speakers to truly show attendees the impact that strong advocacy has in making meaningful changes for our staff and clients.

DE Senate Majority Leader Nicole Poore joined a recent Ambassador Symposium and shared her thoughts on the importance of advocacy with attendees

So far in 2019, we have held our first Ambassador Symposium in Newark, DE for both our Maryland and Delaware Ambassadors. Here, DE Senator and Majority Leader Nicole Poore came to share her passionate story about how she initially became involved in advocacy for her child, and how she now sees her role as being an advocate for all her constituents. Throughout the spring, we will continue to host Ambassador Symposiums in New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, New York and Rhode Island. Whether or not you’ve attended in the past, be sure to check out what being an Ambassador is all about during our upcoming symposiums!

As our Ambassador program continues to grow, we are seeking new Ambassadors from all service and support offices, and are seeking greater involvement from field staff, clients, and other organizations. It is vital that we join together as Hearts for Home Care to strengthen our collective voices in support of home care. Our Ambassadors serve as the forefront of our advocacy program, and truly make the difference in educating local legislators about home care and its impact on clients and communities.

For more information about the Ambassador program, upcoming Symposiums, or home care advocacy in general, contact me today!

2019 Ambassador Symposium Schedule*

SC – 2/20 at the state capitol in Columbia

GA – 2/21 at the state capitol in Atlanta

PA – 2/28  at the Hilton Garden Inn in Harrisburg

NJ – 3/13 at the New Jersey Learning Center in Pennsauken

NC – 3/28 at the North Carolina Learning Center in Charlotte

NY – TBD

RI – 4/9 at the Capitol in Providence (morning of Advocacy Day)

*Please note that the DE/MD Symposium has already occurred, but it’s not too late to become an Ambassador if you are interested! Contact Mike Sokoloski for information.

Ambassador Spotlight: Quotes from Our Advocates

What is it important to continue hosting home visits in South Carolina from an Ambassador and Lawmaker Perspective?

USP CSM Kelsey Harris stated, “It’s important that service offices get involved in advocacy on behalf of our field staff and clients because supporting them in any way we can is at the center of what we do! I appreciate GAO’s continued efforts to raise awareness and rally troops around supporting homecare in South Carolina. We at USP can’t wait to meet many more legislators and government officials in our territory!”

Ali Genthner, Regional Director for WOW added, “The COA office continues to rave about how successful and impactful our home visit was from an office perspective, but also from a client, caregiver and lawmaker perspective. They are already planning who they want to go see next. Thank you to GAO for supporting our offices through the process.”

Representative Chip Huggins asked, “Are you planning to do home visits throughout the state of South Carolina? I would highly recommend doing so. Lawmakers need to hear and see the day in the life of a homebound patient. This has been very impactful, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Alexis and her family.”

Representative Richie Yow added, “Spending time with the family puts a different perspective on any situation. Its past time that we in South Carolina hold insurance companies accountable and do what we can do to ensure that families wanting to take care of their loved ones at home have the necessary equipment and support that they need to do so.”

Advocate Spotlight: Jen Collier


Jen Collier with her local congressman, US Representative Ralph Norman

Hearts for Home Care Ambassador Jen Collier, Transitional Care Manager for the Charlotte Visits (CV) office, recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to join other families on Capitol Hill to advocate for her father and the many other individuals across the United States that receive charitable assistance.  Jen’s father was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia for which there are only two medications that can effectively treat the illness.

Jen’s father failed the trial for one of the medications, so he must take the second medication, which exceeds $23,000 per month in out-of-pocket costs.  When he was diagnosed, he owned his own business, but when he lost his business, he lost his insurance.  Working as a new nurse in an emergency department in Gastonia, NC, Jen found herself having to learn how to get him the necessary care as an uninsured client.  She spent most of her time calling oncologists and begging them to take her father as their patient with no insurance.  She also had to find out how to pay for this medication and the 24 others he needed for his other chronic health conditions.

Patient Services, Inc. (PSI) is a charitable organization that helped Jen navigate this complicated process and assisted with the out-of-pocket costs for his medication.  Once he passed the waiting period for disability and got Medicare, his out-of-pocket responsibility still cost him $7,000 per month, even with his supplement. PSI continued to assist Jen and her father with these monthly payments.

Last year, Jen received notification that her father’s financial assistance was in jeopardy due to federal efforts to cut charitable contributions. PSI selected Jen to help them lobby Congress in support of H.R. 3976, which, if passed, would add PSI and other similar companies to the list of those exempt from this law. During her day on Capitol Hill, Jen met with over 10 representatives and their staff to gain support for this bill, which affects not only her father, but many of the patients she works with every day as a transitional care manager.

Jen said “It was a huge honor to be selected by PSI to help gain support for this bill.  PSI is a wonderful organization and I don’t know where my father would be without their assistance.  My director put me right in touch with GAO, and everyone has been so encouraging.  I am so thankful to work for a company that was able to give me the necessary training and support as I navigated this complicated process for the first time.  I am passionate about being an advocate every day for my patients because of what I have been through with my father.”

To learn more about PSI, please visit their website.

To learn more about H.R. 3976, click here.

Ambassadors Prove they are Ready to Share their Voices at Ambassador Training

Dozens of NJ Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors gather for a day of advocacy training.

In the beginning of March, New Jersey Hearts for home Care Ambassadors gathered for 2018 Ambassador Training to brainstorm and reflect on the many ways in which we can effectively advocate on behalf of our field employees, our clients, and their families. Whether it was discussing phases of grassroots advocacy, the local and federal landscapes and initiatives, or specific lobbying strategies, ambassadors made one thing clear: They are passionate, dedicated, informed, and ready to be the advocates that BAYADA needs.

Throughout Ambassador Training, ambassadors approached legislative issues with many perspectives in mind. Three such perspectives were that of the client, the client’s family, and the field employee. While there are needs and priorities specific to each category, ensuing discussions made it increasingly clear just how connected each of these perspectives are. For example, by advocating for a higher reimbursement rate and living wages for nurses and aides, we are directly advocating

for higher quality care for our clients. In other words, ambassadors stressed the need to understand and believe that when it comes to improving access to and quality of home health care, we are in this together.

Katie Macklin of the Alzheimer’s Association joined us to further reinforce our connectedness. Providing our ambassadors with information about advocacy at the Alzheimer’s Association, Katie identified the impact of organizing and mobilizing across organizations working for a common purpose: providing help and care to those who need it.

To tie in political and legislative perspectives, we were joined by New Jersey Assemblywoman Carol Murphy and lobbyists Gene Mulroy and Paul Crupi. Each provided ambassadors with thoughtful and useful strategies for meeting with and educating legislators. By far the most effective tool we have, they argued, was the power of storytelling.

No one illustrated this point better than Dana Isley, a BAYADA client and parent to a medically complex child. Dana delivered a phenomenal and incredibly moving speech about her home visit with a legislator during which she detailed some of the challenges that she and her daughter, Abi, face. Incredibly impacted by Dana and Abi’s story during this home visit, her legislator acted quickly to provide them resources and support. Dana’s story reiterates a vital point: Your stories make the biggest difference.

At the heart of this collaborative event was an understanding that relationships drive advocacy. Ambassadors’ motivation to advocate stemmed from their sense of dedication and deep closeness to those they care for. With this motivation, they are driven to form relationships with their legislators to advocate for their staff and clients. Our ambassadors continue to show that it only takes one person and one action to make a difference.

 

Summer Legislative Home Visits were a Success!

Submitted by Louise Lindenmeier, Director, Government Affairs (GAO)

Client and Family Advocacy in NJ are picking up speed. In the third quarter of 2017, we participated in four home visits with local legislators. This brings our totals for 2017 to nine home visits, one legislative round table, and one client district visit.

 

Hearts for Home Care Ambassador, Allison Nulton invited NJ state legislator Senator Thompson to a home visit for one of her clients from the TRP office. 

 

District 6 Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt visited with 14 year old Mt. Laurel Pediatrics client Juan M and his mother, Carmen. 

 

 

Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll from District 25 visited the home of 20 year old PED client Lily Kaplan in Morristown. 

 

Dawn Moeller, mom to PED clients Zak and Tyler, invited Senator Cardinale into their home to share what it’s like to have not one, but two children who are medically fragile and require nursing care.

 

 

We have two visits already scheduled during the upcoming fourth quarter and a couple more pending.

 

If you’re interested in setting up a home visit for one of your clients, please contact Louise Lindenmeier or Tara Montague and we will be happy to assist you.

Special Volunteer Program for Clients

Submitted by Rick Hynick, Director, Client and Family Advocacy (GAO)

Karen R, the daughter of a client who receives personal care waiver services and has strong interests in home health care advocacy, oversees a family-run volunteer program started last year called Betty and the Bear.  This program donates hand-made teddy bears to people with dementia and anyone who has had an organ transplant letting them know that they are special and cared for by many.  Last year, they donated 55 bears.  For more information about this program, or how you can help sew a bear, please email me at rhynick@bayada.com.

 

NC: Together We Get Results

Submitted by Lee Dobson, Area Director, NC Government Affairs (GAO)

Legislative successes, like the Medicaid rate increase for nursing last year and the home health aide increase this year, don’t magically happen.  Legislative successes start with an identified need — low Medicaid rates made it impossible to pay people what they are worth — and end with legislators supporting jobs in the community and keeping families together by investing in home health care.  Every step along the way, our Hearts for Home Care ambassadors carried our unified message to decision-makers.  Our cumulative actions over the years, including home and district visits, legislative round tables with lawmakers, responding to calls to action, attending lobby days, etc., made all the difference.  Individually and collectively our shared voices got results.  Join us to be a Heart for Home Care ambassador.

Building Foundations for Advocacy is a Team Exercise in Maryland

Submitted by Shannon Gahs, Director, MD Government Affairs (GAO)

The “Interim” or time between the end of one legislative session and the beginning of the next, is a key time to develop relationships with partners and legislators.  Much of this work is behind the scenes, but you can get involved!  We need ambassadors and other office or field employee volunteers to step up to organize district office visits, where you and I will visit key legislators in the communities they represent.  These visits are key to helping educate our legislators about the people we care for and the people we employ in their districts and build a foundation for future advocacy.  Call or email me if you’d like to get involved.

Ambassador Spotlight – KSP recruiting manager has the “Wright” stuff when it comes to Advocacy!

Submitted by Mike Sokoloski, Manager, Grassroots Advocacy

Lindsey Wright is the Ambassador that is always looking to help, like the first time I met her. -GAO Director Laura Ness and I were on our way to the PA Art Museum, next to the PA State Capitol. As we approached, there was Lindsey.  She was waiting on the sidewalk and on the phone talking and guiding a colleague to the building for our PA Legislative Day.

At the 2017 PA Legislative Day, Lindsey was able to spend 45 minutes with Senator Daylin Leach.  -It was a very candid conversation addressing all of our concerns, but specifically presumptive eligibility and an increase in the PAS rate for home care employees who work so hard for our clients.  Lindsey fostered this relationship with the senator.  She kept in touch with the district office director for Senator Leach, Judy Trombetta.  Lindsey worked diligently with two BAYADA Pediatric offices (PAO and WGP) to provide sponsorship for Senator Leach’s Kids Fair in Philadelphia, and Lindsey volunteered at the event!

In July, GAO coordinated a Client and Family Day at Temple University Kiva Auditorium.  GAO staff, CRO Division office and field employees, clients, and families had interactions with Philadelphia area elected state government legislators and discussed the pressing needs of our field staff, clients, and families.  The first person at the auditorium that day to assist with anything we needed: Lindsey Wright.

 

Advocacy Opportunities for our Field Staff

Submitted by Mike Sokoloski, Manager, Grassroots Advocacy (GAO)

Over the past two months, the Government Affairs Office (GAO) and a few award winning Hearts for Home Care ambassadors have met twice to enhance our advocacy opportunities for your colleagues in the field.  We are excited about the future of our Hearts for Home Care program, and I ask you to reach out to me if you know of any field staff that would like to be part of our advocacy efforts.  We are looking to: build Awareness, Inspire engagement, and Motive advocates!  For the links and more ways for field staff to be involved, visit our website: heartsforhomecare.com or email me at: msokoloski@bayada.com.

Photo GAO (left to right): Mike Sokoloski, Melissa Zuzolo, Alisa Borovik, Lee Dobson, Louise Lindenmeier, and Shannon Gahs