May 20, 2020

From the Desk of Stephen Knight, United Helpers CEO

Good Afternoon Everyone,

Today North Country Now posted the following headline: United Helpers CEO says organization in danger of closing without state aid.  That is not what I said if you read the article. Please do not panic or think that our demise is close at hand.

New York State's lack of funding for nursing homes and community-based services is not a secret.  The board, the management council and I have spent the last several years communicating our concerns over inadequate funding, a lack of funding equity with respect to nursing homes (especially rural nursing homes) and our other community-based services and the financial impact of unfunded mandates. 

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the devastating effects of long-term financial neglect and the media may be able to assist us in our efforts to gain adequate funding. Do not waste this opportunity. I urge you to call your elected officials and voice your concerns over the lack of funding for nursing homes and community-based services!

Stay Safe,
Steve

May 19, 2020

The Race to Reopen the Region


           
OGDENSBURG  - As regions across New York state struggle to meet requirements for reopening, United Helpers and other area long-term care providers raced to secure testing supplies in line with the regulations to comply with the latest Executive Order.

Since mid-March, United Helpers and other providers have continued to respond to rapid-fire directives and newly imposed state mandates, all while developing strategies for coping with a potential outbreak.  

“The amount of preparation and planning that has gone on behind the scenes for United Helpers have been staggering,” said Stephen Knight, United Helpers CEO. “Although necessary, many of the changes have not been easy for residents or staff members.” Knight cited the discontinuation of visitation and the struggles of securing a more reliable and sustainable supply chain for PPE as just two examples. 

Instead of increased funding and targeted staff support, an approach that neighboring states have adopted, in NY, long-term care has been noticeably missing from the list of operations receiving financial reimbursement or provisions.

“We are seeing across the state and country the lack of funding and support for our most vulnerable,” Knight added.  “Although we agree with most of the measures being taken for safety, there is currently no financial relief.  The most recent mandate, as an example, will potentially cost upwards of $60K per week for employee testing.” 

There are many examples of this occurring across the state. Without increased resources, many of the already fragile operations across the state will be in jeopardy of closing.

May 15, 2020

Keeping Our Most Vulnerable Safe


Theresa Kuca, who resides at United Helpers Rehabilitation and Senior Care in Ogdensburg enjoys a window visit with her son, Keith


OGDENSBURG - In mid-March, as the threat of COVID-19 moved slowly north, area schools closed, many businesses were shuttered and hundreds of St. Lawrence County residents relocated their offices to their homes. At the same time, United Helpers issued a no visitation policy that would affect their Rehabilitation and Senior Care facilities in Canton and Ogdensburg and the Behavioral Health and Life Skills Individualized Residential Alternatives (IRAs) that are located throughout the county. Visitation was also restricted at the 20 senior/disabled housing complexes United Helpers manages to further discourage the spread of the virus. 

            While families were separated from their loved ones, nothing could stop the flow of support that immediately arose from all over the North Country. Local quilting groups and sewing enthusiasts began sewing and donating hundreds of masks to be used by UH staff members and those residing in senior housing complexes managed by United Helpers. Area hospitals, US Customs and Border Patrol donated hard to find hospital-grade masks and gowns. Local distillers and shops donated cases of hand sanitizer. Dinners, snacks, and sweets arrive on a daily basis, donated by caregivers, family members, friends, and staff members.

“The outpouring of support over the past two months from our community, resident family members and staff has been overwhelming,” said Stephen E. Knight, United Helpers CEO. “The encouraging videos, the cards, and letters supporting both our staff and residents, the donations of masks, food for the staff, it’s really incredible to see the support.”

After weeks of planning and preparation, the team at United Helpers would face their worst fear. On April 13th United Helpers issued a press release citing the agency’s first COVID positive staff member, less than a week later, United Helpers would see positive cases at their Behavioral Health and Life Skills IRA in Lisbon, and another at its Rehabilitation and Senior Care facility in Canton.

Today, all of the staff and residents that had tested positive have recovered and many of the staff have returned to work. “We have been very fortunate and I cannot say enough about how proud I am of the United Helpers team,” Knight said. “Through diligence and a very quick, all hand’s on deck response, we were able to avoid a catastrophic outcome. But let’s be clear, we’ve dodged what could have been a very devastating bullet, and, if we are not prudent, we could find ourselves in that position once again.”

As New York State and the north country prepares for reopening, Knight cautions us to remember our most vulnerable populations, including our seniors. “It is imperative that we keep the safety of our seniors and those who cannot care for themselves at the forefront,” Knight said.
           
According to Knight, the organization must have an ample supply of personal protective equipment, including masks, face shields and gowns, and have access to rapid testing and resulting for both residents and staff. Wait times for hard to procure items like gowns, face shields and testing supplies are unpredictable and the costs to purchase these items are staggering, putting significant strain on an already stressed financial situation. He urges the Governor and the NYS Senate and Assembly to address the significant gap in priority and funding disparities laid bare by the pandemic.

Knight says United Helpers will continue to diligently follow the governor’s mandates and there is no clear timeline for when visitation restrictions will be lifted. “We are not out of the woods yet,” he said.

May 13, 2020

United Helpers Unveils "Always Caring" Playlist

Thanks to assistance from dozens of United Helpers employees and supporters from across the region music fans now have access to a free playlist of tunes made up entirely of uplifting, inspiring,  motivational, or positive songs.

"When I started putting this list together I had no idea what to expect. I didn't know if we would get 10 songs, 30 songs or 100 songs, but to get well over 100 tracks far exceeded my expectations," said United Helpers Marketing and Communications Coordinator Benny Fairchild. "What we ended up with was a playlist that includes country music, rock music, pop music, and gospel music from the past 50 or more years."

Several other artists also appear on the playlist that you may not have heard of such as Home Free, Israel Kamakawiwo’oi, and Johnny Diaz. Two suggestions for the list, "Heroes" by The Wallflowers and "Atlas Fall" by Shinedown were unable to be added.    The list consists of 117 tracks from all genres of music and covers nearly seven hours of listening. Included in the playlist are many well-known songs from such artists as Queen, who makes five appearances on the list, The Beatles, Elton John, Tim McGraw, Josh Groban, Louis Armstrong, and Bruno Mars.


"This playlist truly includes something for everyone at a time when I think everyone could use a little bit of positivity," Mr. Fairchild said. "And if there's a song you don't like, Spotify allows free users to skip up to six songs per hour."

The playlist may be accessed through Spotify at, https://spoti.fi/3btCnZm.


A complete list of tracks appears below.



"Good Job" by Alicia Keys
“Today's a New Day" by Common Kings
"Keep Your Head Up" by Ben Howard
"I Want to Thank You" by Otis Redding
“Things Can Only Get Better” by Howard Jones
“Land of Confusion” by Genesis
“Break My Stride” by Matthew Wilder
“Get Back Up Again” by Anna Kendrick
“Gonna Fly Now” by Bill Conti
“Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen
“You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban
“We Are The World” by Various Artists
“I Just Want to Celebrate” by Rare Earth
“Atlas Fall” by Shinedown (unable to add)
“Come Together” by Godsmack
“Lean on Me” by Bill Withers
“Rise Up” by Andra Day
“Hallelejuah” by Jeff Buckley
“Angels Among Us” by Alabama
“The Climb” Miley Cyrus
“Count on Me” by Bruno Mars
"Remember This” by Home Free
“Everything Will Be OK” by Home Free
“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor
“Kind and Generous” by Natalie Merchant
“Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield
“Fight Song” by Rachel Platt
“Proud to be An American” by Lee Greenwood
“Feeling Good” by Michael Buble
“Happy” by Pharrell Williams
“What the World Needs Now is Love” by Jackie DeShannon
“Wind Beneath my Wings” by Bette Middler
“Imagine” by John Lennon
"Bridge Over Troubled Waters” by Simon & Garfunkle
“You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor
“Brave” by Sara Bareilles
“I Lived” by One Republic
“Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw
“Don’t Stand so Close to Me” by The Police
“Come Together” by The Beatles
“If You’re Going Through Hell” by Rodney Atkins
“Atlas” by Coldplay 
“Carry on” by Fun 
“A Dailey Anthem” by David Cook 
“Hallelujah” by Paramore 
“High Hopes” by Panic at the Disco 
“Just Like Fire” by Pink 
“A Million Dreams” by Pink 
“Brother” by NeedtoBreathe
“Praise You in the Storm” by Casting Crowns
“Stayin’ Alive” by The BeeGees
“Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin
“Let it Be” by The Beatles
“Let Me Be There” by Olivia Newton John (Live performance)
"Hold On” by Wilson Phillips
“Roar” by Katy Perry
“Let It Go” by Idina Menzel
“Under Pressure” by David Bowie and Queen
“Believe” by Cher
“Holy” by Florida Georgia Line
“I Feel Good” by James Brown
“Chain Breaker” by Zach Williams
“Breathe’ by Johnny Diaz
“Carolina On My Mind” by James Taylor
“We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions” by Queen (2 tracks)
“One Day at a Time” by Christy Lane
“Fly” by Maddie and Tae
“Riser” by Dirks Bentley
“We Stand Together” by Nickleback
“We Are All in This Together” by Ben Lee
“Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor
“Survivor” by Destiny’s Child
“Heroes” by The Wallflowers (unable to add)
“The Show Must Go On” by Queen
“Lose Yourself” by Eminem
“Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey
“Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley
“Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba
“Learn to Fly” by Foo Fighters
“Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson
“I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty
“It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi
“Stand By Me” Ben E King
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’oi
“Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson
“Geronimo” by Sheppard
“Long Black Train” by Josh Turner
“It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” by Travis Tritt
“Life Aint Always Beautiful” by Gary Allan
“Every Storm” by Gary Allan
“A Feeling Like That” by Gary Allan
“Make Them Gold” by Chvrches
Have it All” by Jason Mraz
“Drift Away” by Uncle Cracker
“Good to be Alive” Andy Grammar
“September” by Earth, Wind and Fire
“Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith
“Sweet Emotion” by Aerosmith
“You’ll be in My Heart” by Phil Collins
“Something About The Way You Look Tonight” by Elton John
“Boogie Shoes” KC and the Sunshine Band
“Still the One” by Orleans
“Dance With Me” by Orleans
“The House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert
The Prayer” Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli
To Where You Are” by Josh Groban
“We’re Here For a Good Time” by Trooper
“Supermarket Flowers” by Ed Sheeran
“Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran
“Shower the People” by James Taylor
“How Sweet It Is” by James Taylor
“My Next 30 Years” by Tim McGraw
“Just to See You Smile” by Tim McGraw
“The Good Stuff” by Kenny Chesney
“The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson
“Faith” by George Michael
“Close to You” by The Carpenters
“What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong

Apr 23, 2020

Resident at UH Canton Tests Positive for COVID-19



OGDENSBURG – United Helpers received information late Wednesday, April 22, that a resident has tested positive for COVID-19 at its Rehabilitation and Senior Care facility in Canton.

“The resident presented with a runny nose on April 20th, a chest x-ray was ordered, and on the 21st the resident was diagnosed with pneumonia,” said Steve Knight, United Helpers CEO. “At the time of diagnosis, the resident was immediately tested for the virus and the resident’s room was placed under droplet precautions. We were notified late last evening that the resident had tested positive for COVID-19.”

At this time, the resident’s room remains under precaution, staff are utilizing appropriate PPE to provide care and resident family members have been notified.

United Helpers implemented screening precautions for employees on March 10th and have been adhering to the guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the NYS Department of Health, NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), St. Lawrence County Public Health and other governing agencies.

For additional information, please visit www.unitedhelpers.org/COVID.



           


United Helpers: COVID-19 at Lisbon IRA



OGDENSBURG – United Helpers has received results of positive COVID-19 cases at the Lisbon Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA).

According to Steve Knight, CEO, United Helpers was notified on Saturday that an employee that works at the Lisbon IRA had tested positive for the virus. Primary healthcare providers for the residents were immediately called and testing was performed on all of the facility’s 13 residents.

On Wednesday, United Helpers officials were informed that ten of the residents had tested positive, as well as one additional member of the care team. Several staff members have been tested, with results pending.

“At the recommendation of the primary care provider, the three residents that have tested negative have been placed in isolation,” Knight said.

United Helpers continues to follow guidelines outlined by the CDC, the NYS Department of Health, NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), St. Lawrence County Public Health, and other governing bodies. For additional information, please visit www.unitedhelpers.org/COVID.



           

Apr 13, 2020

United Helpers Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19




OGDENSBURG – United Helpers officials were informed this morning that an employee of United Helpers Rehabilitation and Senior Care in Ogdensburg has tested positive for COVID-19.

The employee was not symptomatic and has not worked at the facility since April 7, 2020. On April 13, (today), after testing positive, the employee was placed under quarantine due to what is believed to be a community exposure. The employee is currently at home and is not symptomatic.

At this time, no residents or staff members are displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

“Following recommendations from New York State Epidemiology and the St. Lawrence County Public Health, we continue our current protocols for surveillance of staff and symptoms related to COVID-19,” said Steve Knight, United Helpers CEO. “The safety of our residents and staff is always our number one priority.”

Tim Parsons, Vice President of Operations and staff members at UH Rehabilitation and Senior Care in Ogdensburg are currently contacting resident family members to inform them of the situation. 

United Helpers continues to follow guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the NYS Department of Health, NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), NYS Office of Mental Health, St. Lawrence County Public Health, and other governing bodies. For additional information, please visit www.unitedhelpers.org/COVID or contact Stacey Cannizzo, Vice President of Clinical Services and Quality at (315) 393-3074.  For further guidance or information, questions may be submitted to the NYS Department of Health at icp@health.ny.gov, covidadultcareinfo@health.ny.gov or covidnursinghomeinfo@health.gov.