Sep 21, 2018

Welcome New Hires

Please welcome the following new employees to the United Helpers family.

Chelsea LaFlair - Task Aide
Shane O'Donnell - Food Service Attendant
Barbara Parish - RN
Caitlin Tracy - RN

Margarita Mussenden - RN

United Helpers Management Co.
Daniel Basford - Maintenance II (Caretaker)
Patrick Proulx - Maintenance II (Caretaker)
Tammy Rupert - Billing Coorindator (Transfer)
Mikayla Paro - Office Tech

Pleasant Valley IRA
Wendi Gavigan - DSP

Rensselaer Falls IRA
Deonna Kennedy - DSP

Lisbon IRA
Ameena Peters - DSP

Supportive Case Management
Kelsey Jones - Specialized Care Coordinator

Sep 14, 2018

Recruitment & Retention Committee Announces Contest

The United Helpers Recruitment & Retention Committee is excited to announce a new contest that will allow you to help us recruit new employees, while also having a chance to win some great prizes.

The United Helpers Facebook page is closing in on 3,000 likes, but yet many of our own employees do not like the page. Fear not, liking our page is not the same as becoming friends with someone, your postings will not start showing up on our feeds, but hopefully our postings and ads will start showing up on yours.

After you like our page,, each time you see a job ad or job posting and share it, you will be entered into a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card. One winner will be chosen each month and there is no limit to the number of times you may enter, so share away!

This contest is open to all United Helpers Employees. Our first drawing will be held in October, but you may start sharing today!

Sep 11, 2018

United Helpers Teams With BOCES & Labor Dept. to Launch Apprenticeship Program for DSPs

CANTON – At the same time students are returning to schools across the North Country, a group of 15 Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) employed by United Helpers Mosaic are returning to the classroom to participate in the state’s first apprenticeship program for DSPs.
The program, which was launched as a collaboration between United Helpers Mosaic, St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES and the New York State Department of Labor includes 144 hours of classroom instruction and between 3,000 and 4,000 hours of on the job training broken into several categories, which relate to the profession. 

Classroom instruction will be led by BOCES, while the Labor Department will oversee job training and monitor each employee’s training log.
“I’ve always wanted people who work as DSPs to be able to do this as a career and have a clear career ladder,” said United Helpers Mosaic Staff Development Director Jason Matthie. “I feel this helps us accomplish this and I’m immensely proud of this program.”
Department of Labor Apprentice Training Representative Nick Gratch oversees 100 apprenticeship programs across the Northern Region of the state.
“Historically apprenticeships have been associated with manufacturing or construction, but now we’re delving more into health care and other fields,” he said.
The benefits of an apprenticeship in any field are clear, he said, paid on the job training and experience that will prepare you for a career and not just a job.
“At the end of this program you could be a DSP anywhere in the country and a really good one,” Mr. Gratch said, adding the number of people graduating from this program each year will create a “pipeline” for people in leadership positions.
For United Helpers this program provides us the satisfaction of being able to offer more opportunities for our employees,” Mr. Matthie said.
The employees though, won’t be the only ones who benefit, Mr. Matthie said.
“It is universally understood that a more professional, highly trained workforce equates to better satisfaction with services and quality of life for those people who receive services from Mosaic,” he said.
United Helpers employs roughly 225 DSPs who provide care and assistance for individuals with developmental disabilities in St. Lawrence County.
For more information on how you could become a DSP, please call (315) 393-3074 or visit For information specific to the apprenticeship program, please contact Mr. Matthie at

Sep 10, 2018

Welcome New Hires

Please welcome the following new employees to the United Helpers family.

Brianna Baillargean - Occupational Therapist
Holly Aschenbrenner - LPN
Bailey Dean - CNA
Dylan Hoover - CNA
Erikka Parmeter - CNA
Aubrey O'Marah - Task Aide
Shannon Szafranski - Task Aide

Mikayla Brown - RN
Deborah Fountain - RN
Diane Monroe - CNA
Lisa Garlough - Food Service Attendant
Sabrina Campbell - Food Service Attendant
Terri Houghton - Housekeeper/Laundry Aide
Cassandra Brooks - Task Aide
Jaelynn Jessmer - Task Aide
Cynthia Niles - Task Aide
Summer Wing - Task Aide

Rensselaer Falls IRA
Jordynne Mussen - DSP
Tia Tirrell - DSP
Rayna Cameron - DSP

Lisbon IRA
Jennifer Parker - DSP
Tiffany Pike - DSP

Irish Settlement Road IRA
Hayden LaRock - DSP
Brandy Youngs - DSP

Case Management
Michael Preston - Care Manager

Sep 6, 2018

Potsdam Man Regains Use of Hands, Sets His Sights on Getting Back on His Bike

POTSDAM – This past spring Thomas Robarge was alone in his home when he fell down. Unable to get back up or reach one of the three telephones in his home, he spent two days laying on the floor of his apartment without food and water clinging to hope that someone would find him before it was too late.
A friend of his from the apartment complex where he lives did find him and called 911, setting into motion a series of events that would see Mr. Robarge spend time at three different hospitals before coming to RiverLedge Health Care & Rehabilitation Center in Ogdensburg.
“From the information I received, the hospital didn’t think he would ever be able to go back home,” said Occupational Therapist Alycia Dezell. “When he came here the thought was to do some cognitive rehab and work on his hands and he’s done great. I think he’s even surprised himself.”
It’s been a rough 12 months or so for Mr. Robarge, who has little recollection of the event leading to where he is today. 
Occupational Therapist Alycia Dezell & Thomas Robarge

“I know that something happened in my apartment,” he said. “I remember falling backwards and things being like they were in slow motion. I had three phones, but I didn’t have enough strength to get to them or use them. I’m very lucky.”
According to one of his five daughters, Danielle Rusk, Mr. Robarge had been experiencing numbness in his hands for quite some time following a surgical procedure last fall.
“This is a person who was a fisherman. He was used to tying lures on lines and baiting hooks. He started downhill skiing at 50 and rollerblading at 60. He was a very strong man,” Mrs. Rusk said. “He was used to having his fine motor skills, but he didn’t think he would ever have feeling in his hands again. Whatever they did with him worked wonders.”
Although, Mr. Robarge was never diagnosed with having a stroke, Ms. Dezell recognized that many of the things he was experiencing were similar to what people recovering from a stroke go through.
Using some techniques she picked up during recent training to become a Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialist, Ms. Dezell said Mr. Robarge was able to make progress that surprised everyone.
“When he first came in he used to fight Natalie and I all the time,” Ms. Dezell said, referring to Physical Therapist Natalie Gilmour. “I think though after he started to notice some improvements, he started to trust us and believe in the program.”
“At first I thought it was ridiculous, but then I noticed some improvements. We’re not all the way there yet, but I’m hoping to get there,” he said.
When asked what “all the way there” would be, Mr. Robarge, who said he used to ride his bike for between 10 and 12 miles per day, is hoping to one day again get back on his bike.
“I’m happy to be going home. I’m looking forward to fishing again and one day hopefully riding my bike again,” he said.
During the course of his therapy, Mr. Robarge said there were a couple of turning points, one involving a dog, and one involving a shoe.
Mrs. Rusk who traveled to the area from her home in Georgia to be with her father during his therapy and recovery brought her dog with her. Describing the dog as soft and fluffy, she said that while her father had been able to pet the dog, he did not understand how soft the dog’s fur was until one day when he was petting the dog.
“I could see the look on his face change,” Mrs. Rusk recalled. “Then he said, ‘Oh my God, he is really soft.” 
Just a few weeks ago, Mr. Robarge couldn't tie his own shoes.

The second turning point came when Mr. Robarge was again able to tie both of his shoes.
“I hadn’t been able to tie my left shoe in over a year, even going back to before the surgery,” he said, as he leaned over from his chair and adjusted the laces on his sneakers.
In addition to regaining use of his hands, Mr. Robarge has also seen significant improvements with his memory and other cognitive skills. He is now back at home in his own apartment and after a period of adjustment and getting settled, hoping to resume therapy in an outpatient setting and continue working towards getting back on his bike.
“He didn’t even want to have hope, but they just kept on him and would not let him give up,” Mrs. Rusk said. “Our family is incredibly grateful for Alycia and the entire staff at RiverLedge. They were all great.”
For more information on therapy services at RiverLedge Health Care & Rehabilitation Center in Ogdensburg, contact (315) 393-0730. For information on therapy services at Maplewood, contact (315) 386-4541.  You may also like United Helpers on Facebook or visit

Aug 23, 2018

United Helpers Now Offering Stroke Therapy From Region's Only Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialists

Alycia Dezell and Stacie Jessmer, Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialists

OGDENSBURG – At any given time there can be as many as a dozen or more stroke patients receiving therapy services through United Helpers.
While traditional therapy is certainly better than no therapy at all, United Helpers can now say they employ the region’s only two Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialists.
Alycia Dezell, an Occupational Therapist at RiverLedge Health Care & Rehabiliation Center in Ogdensburg and Stacie Jessmer, a Physical Therapy Assistant at Maplewood Health Care & Rehabilitation Center in Canton recently earned their certification by completing a series of classes offered by the National Stroke Association over the past several months. 

“There are only 40 Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialists in all of New York State and until now the closest one was in Syracuse,” Mrs. Jessmer said. “Being Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialists, we now know the most beneficial ways and latest techniques for treating stroke patients.”
Ms. Dezell said the course included a lot of lab-based work and data analysis.
“They used to say there was a small window of opportunity, usually around a six month window, for someone to be able to reach their maximum potential after a stroke. With new research we now know that fully recovering from a stroke can sometimes take years. In some instances progress can even continue throughout the remainder of their lifetime,” she said.
Mrs. Jessmer said that it is her hopes that with their certifications, insurance companies may be willing to provide additional therapy services for those trying to recover from a stroke.
“Sometimes insurance companies will only approve therapy for someone for up to three or four weeks, but now with our certifications we have evidence-based information, training and skills that we can use to show the insurance companies how beneficial additional therapy could be,” she said.
Director of Rehabilitative Services Terry L. Micelli said that stroke therapy at either location could occur in an outpatient or inpatient setting. Ms. Dezell and Mrs. Jessmer may provide services to those who just recently had a stroke or those who have had a stroke in the past, but need additional therapy in order to reach the highest level of function possible.
“There is evidence out there that people who have had a stroke even three or four years ago, can possibly regain some function with the help of a specialist,” she said.
The key, Mrs. Jessmer said, is constant stimulation in their environment through specific functional-based tasks.
“To be successful with neuro-therapy you have to stimulate the brain,” she said. “Stroke patients need the same amount of sleep as anyone else, as when they’re sleeping their brain can recover and process the information it has learned. Throughout the day the best thing for them is constant stimulation within their environment.”
Ms. Jessmer said that information, which she and Ms. Dezell learned in the course, is a much different approach than what is often taken with traditional therapy, where stroke patients often work in little bursts and are then given “time to recover,” before doing more therapy work.
In addition to having each other to bounce ideas off of, Ms. Dezell said they know have access to the National Stroke Association’s plethora of experts and library of resources. She also said that in order to maintain their certifications, they must recertify every two years and get an additional 16 hours of continuing education credits.
“This will ensure that our patients are always receiving cutting edge treatment and the benefits of the most up-to-date information and research available,” Ms. Dezell said.
To help provide their stroke patients with constant stimulation, Mrs. Jessmer also said they will be relying heavily of the nursing staff at both facilities.
“It’s a total team effort,” she said.
Mrs. Jessmer and Ms. Dezell are also currently working on a presentation where they will share some of what they’ve learned with other members of the therapy team, nursing staff and people in key positions.
If you feel like yourself or a loved one could benefit from therapy services offered by a Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialist, please contact Navigator Nicholas Maneely at (315) 714-3110 ext. 504.

Aug 14, 2018

United Helpers Now Offering Respiratory Therapy in Canton & Ogdensburg

CANTON – Thanks to a partnership between United Helpers and Canton-Potsdam Hospital, residents of Maplewood Health Care & Rehabilitation Center and RiverLedge Health Care & Rehabilitation Center have access to respiratory therapy as part of their in-patient therapy programs.

The respiratory therapy program, known as Critical Pathways is designed to help reduce the amount of time patients with COPD, respiratory failure or other related illnesses spend in the hospital.

The vision of this program is to establish a continuum of care for COPD patients in St. Lawrence County with United Helpers, as well as other medical service providers and acute care partners also participating. 

“This model has been successful in improving health, quality of life, and reducing hospitalizations in other parts of the country,” said United Helpers Vice-President of Quality Improvement & Clinical Services Stacey Cannizzo. “It is an integral part of providing high quality care in a rural environment.”

Providing those therapy services for patients at RiverLedge and Maplewood is United Helpers Respiratory Navigator Matthew King, CRT.

“I use an evidence-based software program to direct the delivery of care,” Mr. King said, noting that includes assessments, therapeutic treatments and measuring outcomes. “The hospital, as well as local home health care providers are using the same software, which ensures a continuity in care from the hospital to our facility to the patient’s home.”

Referrals to Mr. King come from Canton-Potsdam Hospital, as well as nursing staff at either RiverLedge or Maplewood.

While many of Mr. King’s patients are receiving long-term care, he said that’s not the case for everyone. “I’ve worked with patients as young as 50-years-old who were just here for a temporary rehabilitation stay,” he said.

“What I do is often integrated into a patient’s physical and/or occupational therapy program,” Mr. King said, adding several other staff members from both RiverLedge and Maplewood have received additional training in support of the Critical Pathways program.

“The goal of our program is to reduce the amount of time these people are spending in the hospital and so far, I think it has been a success,” he said.

Mrs. Cannizzo agreed. “This program has been in place since January and I can honestly say it has far exceeded my expectations,” she said.

Both Maplewood Health Care & Rehabilitation Center in Canton and RiverLedge Health Care & Rehabilitation Center in Ogdensburg offer short-term and long-term care. If you think the Critical Pathways Program could benefit you or a loved one, please contact Navigator Nicholas Maneely at (315) 714-3110 ext. 504.