On March 28, our annual North Carolina Hearts for Home Care Ambassador Symposium took place, where we provided tools and resources to our volunteer Ambassadors. The training focused on a variety of topics, including leading a legislative meeting and building relationships with lawmakers.
In addition to special guests former Representative Bill Brawley, Senior Healthcare Campaign Director of MomsRising Felicia Burnett, Association for Home & Hospice Care’s VP of Government Affairs Tracy Colvard, and Staff Attorney with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy Louise Pocock, the shining star of the Symposium was client Dimpal, who inspired all of our Ambassadors with her story of her journey into advocacy.
Beyond detailing the specific challenges she and her family face as a result of low state Medicaid reimbursement rates, Dimpal also described the ways in which home care and her nurses have changed her life and granted her independence:
“Without my nurses, I wouldn’t have been able to go to college and to live a full life. Without them, I’d likely be stuck in a hospital or a nursing home,” said Dimpal.
It was this gratitude for her nurses that propelled Dimpal to share her story and to advocate for others who rely on the state’s Private Duty Nursing (PDN) program to survive.
To hear more about Dimpal and the importance of advocacy, you can watch her full speech here. You can also read about her nursing care in the Gaston Gazette after a reporter came to her house to learn more about how her nurses impact her everyday life.
Special thanks to our Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors for volunteering their time and talents advocating for our staff and clients!
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!
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.
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.
By: Melissa Allman, GAO Director for South Carolina and Georgia
What a difference a year makes. This time last year I was just transitioning out of my role as Division Director for the Palmetto Division and into my new role directing our advocacy activities in South Carolina and Georgia. I didn’t know I was in for so much! As I reflect back on 2018, my thoughts go immediately to two things: First, the successes that we were able to generate for our staff and clients and secondly, the many BAYADA leadership, staff, and clients that shared their voices and helped us win!
This year not only were we able to achieve an 8.2% rate increase for all personal care Medicaid waiver services in South Carolina, but we made so much headway engaging our office staff, field staff, and clients. As one person running around in the state house, I can only do so much. It is your stories and your voices that truly have made our first full-time year in South Carolina a remarkably successful year.
Aside from our rate increase, South Carolina advocates hosted five home visits with state lawmakers, hosted two legislative roundtables, and Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope attended a Hero Ceremony for his constituent—a home health aide from RHS. In addition, we attended several events to support our champions. Then-CLP Director, Haley Keisler was named South Carolina Home Care and Hospice Association’s (SCHCHA) 2018 Professional of the Year, and ROC client Mitchell H.’s mom and caregiver, Tammy Roberts, was recognized as the SCHCHA 2018 Caregiver of the Year.
Additionally, we were able to engage a record 25 Hearts for Home Care ambassadors and advocates to attend Lobby Day, where we connected BAYADA staff to lawmakers to share why our families deserve to be able to stay together through home care.
As I reflect back on the past year, my heart is full of gratitude for all of Georgia’s leadership, Ambassadors, and advocates. Your support and advocacy made all the difference! Not only were we able to generate a rate increase for private duty nursing (PDN) services under the Georgia Pediatric Program (GAPP) waiver, but we’ve made our voices heard and our industry and company better known in the state capitol. We are truly set up for a stellar 2019!
So far in 2019 we have already began meeting with Georgia’s House and Senate leadership and the Georgia Department of Community Health (GCH). We are seeking to further increase the RN and LPN rates under the GAPP program and gain enhancements for PDN waivers for the adult population under the New Options Waiver (NOW), Comprehensive Supports Waiver (COMP) and Independent Care Waiver (ICWP) programs. We will be seeking even further involvement from our GA advocates, and I am excited to see what we can accomplish together!
It was a true honor to work along side of you all, and I’m looking forward to working with you as we continue to raise awareness for our state’s most vulnerable children and adults. Thank you to the many advocates that made 2018 a success, and that will help pave the way for more successes in South Carolina in 2019 and beyond!
Over the past six months, GAO and our Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors have been busy advocating on behalf of BAYADA’s clients and employees. Here is a brief look at our advocacy efforts in 2018 so far:
-19 Hearts for Home Ambassadors met with over 60 NJ legislators during our 2nd Annual New Jersey Advocacy Week.
-25 Ambassadors attended the Assembly vote to advocate for the Parking Accessibility Bill
-All NJ ACSP offices participated in a letter writing campaign to the Governor’s Office. Thank you to the many clients and aides who advocated for themselves, and to the directors for facilitating this campaign!
-8,600 emails were sent to key legislators and to the Governor’s Office urging them to support our PCA Budget Resolution. Thank you to all office and field employees who took action!
If you are interested in becoming a Hearts for Home Care Ambassador, please contact Mike Sokoloski.
Nicole Lugo (center) poses with her Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year Award alongside GAO Director Melissa Allman (left) and Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro (right).
Nicole Lugo, Director of the Coastal Carolina Pediatrics (CCP) office, and her mother, Emily Lugo, recently joined GAO and other state Ambassador of the Year winners in Washington, DC as South Carolina’s first Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year. Nicole was given this honor due to her instrumental role in securing a policy change for the Medically Complex Children’s Waiver by presenting BAYADA’s “Intro to Pediatrics” program to the Department of Health and Environmental Services.
Nicole’s enthusiasm and passion for advocacy continue to shine on a daily basis. Thank You Nicole, for all you do on behalf of your staff and clients!
On March 15, GAO hosted our annual Hearts for Home Care Ambassador training for new and current ambassadors at BAYADA’s North Carolina Learning Center. The day began with our Key Action of the Week discussion and followed with a day of learning, client experience, and panel discussions with legislators and campaign managers. Our ambassadors felt the day was energetic and inspiring, and they especially enjoyed the client stories and legislative perspectives. Below, please find quotes from two of the day’s attendees:
Christian Sheets, Client Services Manager in the Coastal Carolina Pediatric and Adult Nursing Office stated:
“The most helpful part of Ambassador training was just the amount of comfortability I felt after attending. Simply discussing the need for advocacy with my peers made me realize that it will be easy to be passionate about our issues in legislative settings. “
Amy Ramey, Director in the Rock Hill Assistive Care Office added:
“My perspective is that the Ambassador Trainings get better each year. I especially enjoyed Ron Ross and the dynamic session he provided. I am thrilled that there seem to be more and more people interested in advocacy and that our group is growing!
If I could change anything it would be to not call it “training.” I think some thought it would be the same as last year and didn’t see a need to attend. However, I learned so much that we didn’t cover last year. Overall, the experience was excellent. I’m looking forward to next year!”
It’s OK if you missed training! If you’d like to find out more about becoming a Hearts for Home Care Ambassador, emailMike Sokoloski.
GAO and our North and South Carolina Ambassadors met in Charlotte, NC on March 14th for a day packed with thoughtful discussion about the scope, significance, and impact of our advocacy efforts. Whether they discussed legislative priorities, advocacy strategies and techniques, or the relationships that drive the work they do, our Ambassadors made it increasingly clear that they are passionate and prepared to be the voice for their clients, for their client’s families, and for themselves.
Among the day’s highlights was a visit from Representative Carla Cunningham, a former hospice nurse who represents North Carolina’s 106th district. Representative Cunningham has been a staunch advocate for health care, mental health, seniors, women, and children. Representative Cunningham offered our ambassadors a window into the legislative process and encouraged them to be dedicated, prepared, collaborative, and respectful. We were joined also by Wilburn, who has been a BAYADA client for 11 years. Wilburn spoke of the deep connections he shares with his caregivers and with the people he has met in his own advocacy efforts.
Our ambassadors are ready to move forward and be the competent, dedicated, and reliable voices that BAYADA needs to ensure that Wilburn and all our clients receive the care they deserve. It only takes one action, taken by only one person to make a difference. You can be that person today. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you can get involved!
This session, our major legislative goal in Maryland is to increase the Medicaid LPN rate across all programs and client groups from $34.16 to $42.81. It is an ambitious goal—initial budget estimates place the cost to the state at $26 million per year. With neighboring states reimbursing LPN care at $45, $46.14 and $50 per hour, it is easy to see why there is such a problem of access to care across Maryland. The low reimbursement simply does not support a sufficient wage to be able to consistently recruit and retain the skilled nurses that we need to be able to commit to serving a larger number of clients.
Problems within the Maryland Department of Health and a general lack of transparency have hindered this effort in past months. There have been a few targeted data points essential to such a large budget ask that BAYADA and Maryland-National Capital Homecare Association (MNCHA) through our best efforts, have been unable to obtain.
We started this session asking key legislative champions to help us get this information, using their political pressure to get information from the Department of Health or to introduce legislation that would establish an oversight working group to investigate the issue. Several legislators have been deeply troubled by the idea of children and adults with disabilities being unable to access the skilled nursing care they need to remain at home safely and have stepped up to help. This information, and the support we are gaining from those in key positions to move this effort through to becoming law, is a key step in increasing this LPN rate.
Thank you to Ambassadors Dan Guidebeck, Nikita Mutter, and Matt Paske for joining in legislative meetings and sharing the stories of how this issue impacts our clients and employees. Your commitment to advocacy reminds me of why we do what we do every day.