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Help End HIV Stigma

 

Even though it’s been over 30 years since HIV was first diagnosed, there’s still an unfortunate barrier to fighting this virus. That barrier is stigma. The Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign raises awareness that we all have a role to play in stopping HIV stigma. When we support people living with HIV, we make it easier for them to live happy, healthy lives.

How can you make a difference? There’s many small ways to make a big impact.

If each of us commits to making positive changes in our families and communities, we can help end HIV stigma and work together to stop HIV.

For ideas of how you can get involved click here.

For information about Keystone Health’s HIV Program, including locations for free HIV and STD tests, click here.

Remember, we all play a role in reducing stigma!

Employee Spotlight – Maria Perez

The Keystone Health Employee Spotlight for January shines on Maria Perez, Office Manager/Assistant Director of the Keystone Farmworker Program!

Maria began her career at Keystone in 1999. She took a year off in 2006 when the Director of the program, Mary Englerth, went to Guatemala to do medical missions work. When Mary returned in 2007, Maria rejoined Keystone and has been here ever since.

“Mary is an awesome lady,” Maria said. “I like working for her and for Keystone. I’m proud to work for a company that cares for its employees and its patients.”

During the growing season when there are the most farmworkers in the area, Maria spends her days answering phones, setting up appointments, calling patients, assisting Program Directors Mary Englerth and Vanessa Rice, going to camps to deliver medications and register patients (including the outlying camps in Western PA, Berks, and Columbia counties), and checking on patients to make sure they are doing well. During their “off-season,” Maria spends her time running reports, collecting information, and preparing for the next growing season.

“My favorite part of the job is working with the patients,” Maria said. “I like knowing that this program’s goal is to meet their needs.”

When she’s not at work, Maria enjoys spending time with her family. She lives in Hanover, PA with her husband and has three grown sons.

“I have a beautiful family,” she said. “My husband works in Spring Grove as a supervisor at the paper mill. He’s also a full-time pastor at a Hispanic church in New Oxford. My oldest son also works at the paper mill and is married to a wonderful lady. They have three children; my handsome grandsons are the apples of my eye.

“My middle son works as a teacher at Vida Charter School. He is married to a wonderful lady, who works for WellSpan, and my youngest son is 21 and he lives in Cincinnati, OH. He works as a parking valet and is planning to go back to college.”

Maria’s hobbies include creating flower arrangements, and her favorite book is The Bible. She enjoys walking and riding bikes with her grandsons when the weather is nice, and visiting downtown Chambersburg – especially the square and the Hispanic market in Southgate.

Thank you, Maria, for all that you do for Keystone and our patients!

 

Keystone Health Offers Free Pap Tests in January

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.

For most women between the ages of 21-65, Pap tests are one of the most important steps in keeping themselves healthy and protecting themselves from cervical cancer.

During the month of January, Keystone Health is offering FREE Pap screenings for women who are due for this important test. Show or mention the coupon below at Keystone Community Outreach (located at 455 Lincoln Way East, Chambersburg) and receive a Pap test free of charge. Each patient who is due for this test and completes an appointment will receive a $5 gift card!

Call (717) 709-7908 to schedule your appointment.

For more information about the importance of cervical cancer screenings, visit this blog post by Keystone provider Cathy McAfee.

Coping With Grief During The Holiday Season

The holidays are associated with family and friends in every cultural and ethnic group. This is the time of the year that is filled with joy and enthusiasm. However, there are some people who may not be able to fully enjoy the happiness that the holidays can bring — those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Dr. Jagdeep Kaur, Psychiatrist at Keystone Behavioral Health, wants those people to know that while experiencing grief during the holiday season can be especially difficult, there are healthy ways to cope and remember your loved one.

Coping with grief

The pain of loss is hurtful and exhausting. Coping with grief in healthy ways is necessary for sound body and mind. We cannot forget the loved ones we’ve lost, and we should not try to forget them. But we need to understand that in this universe, things happen in a cyclic pattern. The same principle applies to life as well. We are not going to be on this earth forever. There is an end to everyone’s journey but that does not minimize the pain of grief. We should draw strength from the memories of lost loved ones. From my personal experience, I can tell you that crying is a common emotion when memories of your loved one come to mind. And that’s okay. You can cry. Tears are holy water and that makes crying a healing process. Allow yourself to feel the emotions fully. Sit with these feelings and find out what comes up.

Healthy coping strategies during the holidays

I have a few suggestions to ease the pain of loss which can be especially helpful this time of year.

  1. Anticipation: Visualize your holidays with and without your lost loved one. Allow yourself to feel your emotions. Try to replace negative emotions with positive feelings.
  2. Memory: Do something special alone or with other family members/friends in the memory of the lost loved one. Do it for you, not to please anybody else.
  3. Purpose: Have a meaning and purpose in your life. Strive towards your purpose while surrounding yourself with love and happy memories of your loved ones.
  4. Share: Share your thoughts and feelings with people that you feel comfortable with.
  5. Take care of yourself: Do what feels right to do for your wellbeing.

When to consider professional help

The hurtful feelings of grief can last for 3-4 months or longer. Usually, the first year after losing a loved one is difficult. If the feelings of grief are affecting you to the point that you are not able to function as normal in your daily life, it is time to seek professional help. Start by having a conversation with your medical doctor so that you will be referred to an appropriate professional.

 

This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.

HIV and AIDS – Facts and Prevention

December 1 was World AIDS Day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a million people in the United States are living with HIV. It is estimated that one out of five Americans with HIV do not know they have the infection. Dr. Raghavendra Tirupathi, medical director of Keystone Infectious Diseases and Keystone Health’s HIV program, and physician at Keystone Internal Medicine says it’s important that everyone educates themselves about HIV facts and prevention.

What is HIV? HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, damages a person’s body by destroying specific blood cells which help the body fight disease.

What is AIDS? HIV, if left untreated, can develop into AIDS — acquired immune deficiency syndrome. At this stage of the HIV infection, a person’s immune system is severely damaged and has difficulty fighting disease and certain cancers.

How is HIV/AIDS spread and not spread? HIV is not spread by saliva, kissing, shaking hands or sharing utensils. It is not spread through insect bites, air or water. HIV is transmitted through sex with either a man or woman without the use of condoms. HIV can also be spread through using IV drugs or having a partner who uses IV drugs. Pregnant women can pass HIV to their baby by pregnancy or through breastfeeding. Getting tattoos or body piercing does present a potential risk if obtained from an unlicensed facility or if performed in an unsterile way.

Who should be tested? Everyone between the age of 13 and 64 should be tested at least once in their lifetime, even if you don’t think you are at risk. For those who have had more than one sexual partner in the last six months, have a history of sexually transmitted disease in the last year or have a history of IV drug use, you should be tested at least once every year. For those who have high-risk sexual behaviors, multiple partners, have sex in exchange for money, or use injection drugs, testing is recommended every three to six months.

Free Testing Available In Franklin County, free and confidential HIV testing is provided on a walk-in basis at these locations: Keystone Internal Medicine (830 5th Ave Suite 201, Chambersburg) and Keystone Community Outreach (455 Lincoln Way East, Chambersburg). The completely confidential testing is very quick—it only takes a few minutes and results are ready in less than half an hour. This non-invasive test is done by simply swabbing the gums—no blood is involved. No appointment is needed; you can simply walk in during business hours.

Know your status Getting tested is the only way to know your status. If HIV is detected early and treated, you can expect a higher quality of life and a longer life. And the good news is there is help available in our community for those who are HIV positive.  The Keystone Health HIV Program provides medical and support services to HIV positive individuals.

 

This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.

Employee Spotlight – Greg Hoover

The Keystone Health Employee Spotlight for December shines on Greg Hoover, Speech-Language Pathologist at Keystone Pediatric Therapies!

Greg became part of the Keystone team in May of 2016 when Keystone acquired Edlantis Achievement Center and renamed it Keystone Pediatric Therapies. It didn’t take long for Greg to feel at home.

“I felt a sense of family and overwhelming kindness upon meeting everyone at Keystone from the top, down,” he said.

On a typical day, Greg sees about 12-16 patients who have communicative disorders.

“I love working with clients with social-cognitive impairments, especially teens,” he said. “I’m passionate about helping them establish and maintain meaningful relationships with friends and family throughout their lifespan. I’m proud that I am allowed the opportunity to help shape a child’s speech or language into meaningful and effective communication. It excites me to know that my clients will use the skills they learned at Keystone Pediatric Therapies to accomplish great and fulfilling things in the academic, social, and vocational settings.”

Like most Keystone employees, Greg sees the impact the company makes in our community each day.

“I am proud to work for Keystone Health because the company focuses on serving the needs of all of residents of Franklin County despite their ability to pay,” he said. “Also, I feel like everyone has a voice here; everyone has the ability to communicate their thoughts and ideas to help make the company a better place for all.”

When he’s not at work, Greg enjoys playing guitar, watching movies, biking rail trails, and cooking traditionally prepared foods. He also enjoys reading, and his favorite book is All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

While he now calls Franklin County home, Greg grew up in DuBois, Pennsylvania as the youngest of four boys.

“What I like most about the Franklin County region is the access to fresh, local produce, the minimal amount of snow compared to my hometown, and access to beautiful state parks and hiking trails within a short driving distance,” he said.

Thank you, Greg, for all that you do for Keystone and our patients!

What You Need To Know About Marketplace Insurance Enrollment

The enrollment period for 2019 Marketplace insurance coverage is now underway. While many people view the process as complicated, there are places to turn for help. Pam Laye, supervisor of outreach and enrollment at Keystone Health, offers some answers to frequently asked questions.

Why is it important to have health insurance?

No one plans to get sick or hurt, but most people will need medical care at some point. Health insurance covers most costs, protecting you from unexpected, high medical bills and offers many other important benefits as well. You pay less for covered in-network health care, even before you meet your deductible. Without health insurance, you are faced with paying the bills yourself and those bills could amount to a lot of money and debt which could take you years to pay off.

A three-day hospital stay could cost you as much at $30,000 if you don’t have insurance; a broken leg from skiing, bicycling or playing sports could cost you $7,500 if you don’t have insurance. The American Diabetes Association estimates that the average cost of diabetes is $13,700 in medical expenses per person per year. To help address the affordability of health insurance, tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies are available from the government that may make premiums more manageable or may help lower out-of-pocket expenses such as co-payments at the doctor’s office or the pharmacy.

When is the open enrollment period?

The Marketplace opened November 1, and will remain open until December 15 for coverage to begin on January 1. After the Marketplace closes, you can enroll or change plans only if you qualify for a special enrollment period. Circumstances that may qualify you for special enrollment include: marriage, a birth, adoption or fostering of a child and a change in your current insurance, income or citizenship.

What are the main options when it comes to plans?

In Franklin County the only two options are Capital Blue Cross and Highmark. Capital plans which are  offered are Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans. This means if you go to a provider who accepts Capital Blue Cross insurance, you will pay a lower cost for care. If you go out of network (to a provider who does not accept your insurance plan) the cost will be higher than in network, but still lower than full cost. Highmark is offering only Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) plans. This means if you go out of network, insurance is not going to cover your service and you will have to pay full price.

The deductible and out of pocket cost are about the same for both options which could be as high as $15,800 and as low as $2,000 depending on your plan.

When will my coverage begin?

If you enroll or change plans by December 15, 2018, your coverage will begin January 1, 2019.

Do I need to do anything if I enrolled last year?

If you do not update your application by December 15, 2018, you will probably be re-enrolled automatically. However, it is best to review your options every year. Prices and plans change annually and there may be a new plan that is more affordable for you. If the plan you selected last year is no longer available, you will likely be enrolled in a similar plan. It is important to make sure your healthcare provider accepts the plan you are using.

If I choose to be uninsured, will I have to pay a penalty?

Yes. If you were uninsured in 2017, you had to pay whichever amount was greater: 2.5% of your total adjusted gross household income, or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, up to $2,085 per family. The fees have typically risen each year with inflation, but the final 2018 fees have not yet been announced. Starting in the 2019 calendar year, there will not be a penalty for remaining uninsured. (This will take effect with 2019 taxes, which are filed in early 2020.) 

How do I enroll?

There are several ways you can enroll. Most people choose to enroll online at www.healthcare.gov but you can also enroll by phone, with a paper application or with a trained helper or certified Marketplace counselor. The department I oversee, Keystone Health’s outreach and enrollment department, is one community resource that provides this service for free. Our certified enrollment navigators can meet with you and walk you through the process, and can also help you complete charity applications. You can call (717) 709-7969 for further information or to schedule a free appointment to meet with a Keystone Certified Assistance Counselor.

Marketplace agents can also help complete applications, but there is typically a fee for the use of this type of assistance. There is no cost or charge if you use a Keystone Certified Application Counselor.

Antibiotic Resistance Facts

November 12-18 was Antibiotic Awareness Week. Antibiotics save lives every day and have been one of the most important discoveries in the last century. However, using them incorrectly can have life-threatening consequences. Dr. Raghavendra Tirupathi, Medical Director of Keystone Infectious Diseases, shares some important information everyone needs to know about antibiotic safety.

What are antibiotics?

Antibiotics are medicines that help to stop infections caused by bacteria by killing the bacteria or by stopping bacteria from reproducing. The discovery of penicillin in 1928 transformed the treatment of infections. However, antibiotics only treat bacterial infections and cannot treat infections caused by viruses.

What is antibiotic resistance?

When antibiotics are used incorrectly, bacteria can change or adapt in a way that makes the antibiotics ineffective. This is usually caused by using antibiotics too frequently or when they are not needed.

Why should I care about antibiotic resistance?

It could literally save your life. This problem continues to grow and leaves us with fewer effective antibiotics to treat deadly infections. As bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, even minor infections can turn deadly. In the United States, antibiotic resistant bacterial infections lead to 23,000 deaths and more than 2 million illnesses annually.

What causes antibiotic resistance?

Some of the main causes of antibiotic resistance are: the overprescribing of antibiotics, patients not taking antibiotics as prescribed, patients not completing their antibiotic course, poor infection control in hospitals and clinics, unnecessary antibiotic use in agriculture and poor hygiene and sanitation practices.

How do I know if I need an antibiotic?

Your healthcare provider will be able to decide whether an antibiotic is necessary to treat your condition. Some common illnesses are caused by viruses, and antibiotics will not be helpful.

Some common conditions that are caused by bacteria that do require antibiotics are: strep throat, urinary tract infections and whooping cough.

Some common conditions that may require antibiotics are: sinus infections and middle ear infections.

Some common conditions that are caused by viruses and do not require antibiotics are: common colds, runny noses, bronchitis or chest colds in otherwise healthy patients, the flu and sore throats (that are not strep).

What are some ways to feel better when I don’t need antibiotics?

Make sure you get rest and drink plenty of fluids when you aren’t feeling well. For upper respiratory infections (including sinus infections, ear infections, colds and bronchitis), things that may help include: using saline nasal spray or drops, avoiding smoking and secondhand smoke, breathing in steam from a hot bowl of water or shower, taking an over-the-counter pain reliever or decongestant (make sure to follow directions carefully) and a warm, moist cloth over aching sinuses or ears.

For sore throats, you can drink warm beverages, gargle with salt water, use sore throat spray, and suck on ice chips, popsicles or lozenges (for those not at risk of choking). For coughs, humidifiers or vaporizers, breathing in steam, lozenges and honey may provide some relief. (Never give honey to a child under 1 year of age.)

What can I do to protect myself from antibiotic resistance?

If your illness does require antibiotics, make sure you take them exactly as prescribed. The entire dosage should be finished, even if you are feeling better. Your healthcare provider should prescribe you the shortest duration of antibiotics necessary. You should talk to your doctor if you have any questions or develop side effects to your antibiotics, including diarrhea, as it could be a sign of infection.

Make sure you never share antibiotics, practice good hygiene (wash your hands frequently, cover coughs, stay home when sick, etc.) and get recommended vaccinations, including the flu vaccine.

I hope that everyone will do their part to use antibiotics properly so we can make sure these life-saving medicines will be available for generations to come.

 

This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.

Employee Spotlight – Betty Parker

The Keystone Health Employee Spotlight for November shines on Betty Parker from our Billing Department!

Betty is among Keystone’s most tenured employees. She began her career with us in June of 1999 as a part-time receptionist in an office Keystone then had in Dry Run, PA. That location has since closed, but she wanted to continue working for the company.

“In 1999 I was going through medical secretary schooling and did my shadowing at the Dry Run office,” Betty said. “After a couple weeks and toward the end of my course, the office manager there offered me a part-time job as a receptionist. I accepted and here I am 19 years later.”

During that time she has held several different job positions within Keystone including receptionist, medical records technician, data entry technician, collections representative, and now billing representative. Through the years she has always appreciated working for a company that is making a positive impact on our community.

“I’ve learned so much from what Keystone Health stands for and from what Joanne (Cochran) does for our community,” she said. “We offer health care to a lot of people who cannot afford it otherwise.”

On a typical work day Betty keeps busy with posting insurances, assisting patients, resolving issues related to insurance companies and contacting the companies for payment.

“I enjoy working with our patients,” Betty said. “I like to help them understand their billing statements and help them resolve any issues they’re having with their insurance company. I also work with the best group of people. They make it a joy to come to work every day.”

Betty also gets a lot of happiness out of spending time with her family. She lives in Shippensburg with her husband of 37 years, Erick.

“My husband is my best friend and he inspires me to always be me and to reach for whatever I want to achieve,” she said. “We have two beautiful children, Shawnna Lynch and Derek Parker, and two adorable grandchildren. We also have our big boy Maximus, our chocolate lab who we all adore.”

Before moving to Shippensburg Betty and her family lived in Path Valley where her children grew up.

“We waited to move until our children were out of high school so they could graduate with their classmates; that was our promise to them,” she said. “We love living in Shippensburg now. We enjoy walking around our neighborhood and meeting our neighbors. We also enjoy camping with our family, vacationing at the beach, and I love shopping with my daughter and being connected at the hip to my husband. I constantly want to make people happy and have always been like that.”

Thank you, Betty, for all that you do for Keystone and our patients!

2018 Diabetes Health Fair

 Join us on Saturday, November 10th, for our 2018 Diabetes Health Fair!