What You Need to Know About the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period
Don’t worry, there’s still time to enroll in a Medicare plan! You’ve probably noticed all the advertisements lately encouraging Medicare beneficiaries to enroll before AEP ends on Dec. 7. But what is AEP, and how can you ensure the best decision for Medicare enrollment? If you’ve been asking yourself this same question, you’re in the right place. Here we’ll explore some of the most important things you need to know before you choose your Medicare plan for 2023. What is AEP? AEP stands for Annual Enrollment Period, and for Medicare this takes place Oct. 15 – Dec. 7 every year. You might hear people refer to AEP as Open Enrollment or the Fall Enrollment Period. All Medicare beneficiaries can enroll during this time, and their new policy will take effect on Jan. 1 of the following year. If you’re already enrolled in Medicare Parts A & B, you can use AEP to enroll in a Medicare Supplemental or Advantage Plan. You can also choose to drop your Supplement or Advantage Plan and revert to traditional Medicare.
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Department Spotlight: Environmental Services
This week is Healthcare Environmental Services Week (Sept. 11 - 17, 2022). Join us in celebrating our Environmental Services department at Renown Health! Cleanliness in a healthcare environment begins and ends with the hard work of an environmental services (EVS) department, and at Renown Health, our EVS teams are no exception. This department not only provides sterile care areas for every patient, but they are passionate about keeping Renown’s patients, visitors and employees safe. Everyone who comes through the doors of any Renown location is immediately greeted with the embrace of a thoroughly clean and disinfected space, and they can rest assured that they are receiving care in the safest environment possible – and it’s all thanks to the dedication of EVS. Transcending the Meaning of Clean Talk about “squeaky clean!” All EVS team members follow a meticulous cleaning procedure to maintain patient safety in every care area. No corner or crevice is ever left behind – and the entire team is passionate about ensuring no spot goes untouched. Cris Hughes, Manager of Environmental Services and Linen for Renown, emphasizes that her team “is the frontline defense in stopping the spread of infections.” There is no question that the work the EVS team does every day around the clock is crucial to protecting the lives of patients. “I love coming to work to clean and disinfect,” said Mary Orozco, Environmental Services Technician at Renown Regional. “I feel like I’m saving lives.” After setting up carts with special cleaning chemicals, each team member heads to their assigned care areas and follows this step-by-step process (while changing gloves and using hand sanitizer in between each step to prevent contamination): Step 1: Collect and dispose of all the trash in the room. Step 2: Disinfect every item and surface. According to this department, blood is the most common bodily fluid left behind after a patient leaves a hospital room. Step 3: If there is a bed in the room, make the bed with fresh linens. Step 4: Mop the floors, ensuring every nook and cranny is thoroughly cleaned. Each team member goes through a rigorous environmental services training process, where they are taught the four-step procedure outlined above. Renown EVS Technicians are Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Technicians, otherwise known as CHEST-trained. The CHEST program “pairs quality education for high-performing health care environmental services professionals with evidence-based training sessions,” according to the Association for the Health Care Environment. CHEST certifications are also the key pathway to being promoted from housekeeper to EVS technician and being cleared to handle blood and other bodily fluids. Upon completion of the program, Renown is committed to promoting housekeepers to the next step in their career. The EVS technicians do such a good job that they have been continually celebrated by patients and visitors alike. “The patients and their families give so much support for my work that they even want to ‘take me home' with them,’” said Josephine Ubando, Environmental Services Technician at Renown South Meadows. Brittany Sylvester, Supervisor of Environmental Services for Renown, reiterates the department’s devotion to their jobs, as well as their talents that transcend the meaning of clean: “The EVS team has so much dedication to keeping our hospitals safe for our patients. They work so hard, and the passion they have is remarkable.” We Have Your Back How many of us can appreciate a great leader who helps provide optimal experiences at work? Most likely, you just internally raised your hand. In the EVS department, all team members consistently brought up one person in particular that always supports them in every endeavor: Cris Hughes. “Cris motivates me,” said Dianda Enchante, Environmental Services Technician for Renown Regional. “Cris practices open communication and always follows up. We know she has the team’s back.” “I wish we could have a monument outside to show appreciation for our leads because they are amazing,” said Josephine Ubando. “We have the best supervisor and manager.” For Rosario De Gomez, Environmental Services Technician at Renown South Meadows, Cris and her team leads are part of the reason why she has stayed at Renown for 23 years. “My team lead and manager are good people,” she added. Cris responded back to the piles of praise, saying that she could not be prouder of her team. “I feel their accomplishments and challenges, kind of like a mom does.” Imelda Castillo, Environmental Services Team Lead at Renown South Meadows, is also humbled by her employees and their compliments towards her. They continuously inspire her to strive for excellence in her job after 21 years of working for Renown. “I want to celebrate everyone,” said Imelda. “We are a team!” A strong team indeed. Sha’vonne Mclean, Quality Assurance Analyst for Renown, “could go on and on about the work that goes on in the EVS department.” Sha’vonne emphasizes that the EVS technicians and housekeepers are the backbones of our health system. “We as a team are responsible for the health and wellness of Renown, from top to bottom,” she added. “EVS works countless hours doing what they do best: cleaning and disinfecting. The hard work that happens in this department especially makes them deserving of the spotlight.” The immense support coming from every EVS team member – especially trickling down from their team leads and manager – only adds to the level of passion for infection prevention and patient safety they each hold in their hearts. And by having each other’s backs, they in turn have YOUR back as well. A Strong Culture Match The culture the EVS team has fostered in their department is so powerful that many EVS career holders have surpassed several years, and in some cases, even decades. Several team members in this department started their EVS careers at Renown between 10-20 years ago – and they never left. Their commitment to Renown’s mission and vision shines through in their work and their years-long tenure with us. “I come from a culinary background, and let me tell you, this is a totally different experience,” said Brittany Sylvester. “I have learned so many things about the process of keeping a hospital properly cleaned and disinfected for our patients in the community. I just love being a part of this team and the culture at Renown.” New employees who would like to embrace an environment where they are continually lifted up by their teammates are always welcome to join Renown EVS team. Communication, collaboration and a good attitude are needed to match the energy and level of support this team brings to work every day. “I have never seen harder workers than those in our EVS team,” said Sha’vonne Mclean. “A good majority of our team members have been here a long time, and yet, their energy never wanes. They are inspirational.” “The sense of pride we have makes me so happy,” adds Rosario De Gomez. “We are very passionate about everything we do here.”
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40 Years of Exceptional Care
“In sickness and in health” are words we often hear when celebrating the momentous occasion of marriage with our friends, families and loved ones. For James Breckenridge, these words were the foundation of the love and commitment he and his wife Carolyn showed to each other during their 30 years of marriage. In health, James and Carolyn shared a love of traveling. Hopping in their van, driving across the continental United States and enjoying the views along the way will be a memory James cherishes forever. Unfortunately, their excursions would be cut short when Carolyn fell ill, rerouting to their local hospital, Renown Health. Carolyn has spent more time at the hospital than the average person – including recovering from COVID-19 at Renown South Meadows Medical Center. However, hospital admittance for Carolyn meant the same for James, providing support to his wife during her stay. Following more than 40 years of exceptional experiences with Renown and their most recent discharge from the hospital, James wrote a letter recognizing the efforts of the team members and healthcare providers who not only cared for Carolyn but also James. To Whom It May Concern James began his letter by applauding two Renown Regional nurses they got to know well during their recent visit. Tiffany and Ashley went the extra mile to care for Carolyn attentively. From simple tasks like gathering requested supplies to answering James’ questions in detail, they helped provide a comfortable environment for the couple. To these nurses, these tasks may have felt like another day at work. Still, James’ letter commends them for their acts of service, reminding us that every interaction we have with a patient can be a memorable one. Tiffany and Ashley weren’t the only team members who received recognition in James’ testimonial. He also took a moment to recognize the various nurses, certified nursing assistants, therapists and doctors they encountered during their care journey. All provided the excellent and helpful experience we aim for at Renown. Healing Memories James first brought Carolyn to Renown Regional Medical Center, formerly known as Washoe Medical Center, in 1980, but it was 1996 when things changed for him. Carolyn was admitted to the hospital for a procedure they originally anticipated would come with a difficult prognosis. To their surprise, doctors found the opposite. It was in that joyous moment that James’ perspective of hospitals shifted, now viewing them for what they truly are – a place people go to get better. “Every time I walk around Renown Hospital, I remember all the times Carolyn was healed there,” James wrote in the latter half of his letter. Healing Isn't Just for the Patient James took advantage of the many support resources accessible to family members during their time at Renown. These donor-funded hospital initiatives are a valuable mental health resource in difficult circumstances. Whether it was an afternoon stroll with his wife through Fianna’s Healing Garden or quiet time alone in the Spiritual Center, James never hesitated to turn to these resources in his time of need. “Although I know the Tahoe Tower is the modern, state-of-the-art part of Renown, I prefer the Sierra Tower because that is where most of my memories are.” Even a simple daily walk to the on-campus Starbucks was a notable part of his day – grabbing a cup of coffee for himself and often a treat for Carolyn. An Inspiration in Healthcare When asked to describe Renown in one word, James chose “inspirational.” His collective experiences with Renown, James said, “helped him to be a better healthcare advocate” when his wife received care at other hospitals. As a healthcare leader, we challenge ourselves to go above and beyond for the health of our entire community. Collaborating with our patients and their families is at the center of everything we do at Renown. Positive reviews mean the absolute world to us, and something about this handwritten letter feels even more special. We could not be more appreciative to James for sharing how our vision to inspire better health in our community was reflected in his 40 years of experience with Renown. We were saddened to hear of Carolyn’s passing during a recent meeting to thank James for his letter. We take solace hearing James’ beautiful memories of his wife and knowing that Renown Health was there in times of sickness and health. We offer our sincere condolences to James, Carolyn’s children and their family members.
A Family's Legacy
Dr. Derek Beenfeldt first joined the Renown family in 2014 as a family medicine physician after graduating from University of Nevada, Reno, School of Medicine (UNR Med) in 2011. His son Davis was only 10 years old when Dr. Beenfeldt decided to change careers and attend medical school. Ten years later, Davis is following in his dad’s footsteps as a third year student at UNR Med. “I am proud of Davis for taking on the challenges and the commitment that I know goes along with attending medical school,” Dr. Beenfeldt said. “I also feel lucky that we have a medical school with such a great reputation and resources close to home.” The affiliation is a great source of pride for Dr. Beenfeldt. Not just because two important organizations in his life are joining forces, but he also sees it as both entities taking on an immense responsibility – the challenge to be better for incoming students, and subsequently to improve healthcare in Nevada. Davis is currently going through his rotations and spending countless hours a week at Renown Regional. His dad is right there by his side supporting him along the way. “It has been really interesting to have discussions about the UNR medical school with Davis, I recognize the names of many of the professors and courses from when I was a student,” Dr. Beenfeldt said. “I tried to be empathetic, as I can relate to how difficult and stressful this time is for him. Dr. Beenfeldt currently works as chief medical officer for Renown’s insurance arm Hometown Health, and Davis is still browsing specialties. “I don’t know what kind of medicine I want to focus on yet, but I feel lucky that I can attend medical school so close to home and have the option to continue helping my fellow Nevadans after I graduate.” UNR Med at a Glance UNR’s Medical School was established in 1969 Over the last 50 years, UNR Med has educated 3,900+ physicians More than 30% of UNR Med physician graduates continue to practice in Nevada UNR Med is the state’s oldest medical school
Parkinson's Disease Know The Important Symptoms
Parkinson’s disease – you may have heard of it because Neil Diamond and Ozzy Osbourne were recently diagnosed with it. Or perhaps you know Michael J. Fox is a strong advocate and funds research through his foundation. Neurologist Jonathan Spivack, MD, discusses this disease, while physiatrist Stephanie Jones, DO, explains how physical therapy can help as a supplemental treatment. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation about ten million people worldwide currently have this disease. What is Parkinson’s Disease? “Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that progresses slowly and definitely, though at variable rates,” explains Dr. Spivack. “Symptoms go beyond the classic motor changes. It results from a loss of specific dopamine-producing brain cells. Specifically, this loss is likely due to a mix of genetic and environmental factors,” he adds. Dopamine allows communication between particular nerve cells responsible for movement. If you have Parkinson’s dopamine levels gradually drop, causing a loss of motor skills. Generally, most patients with the disease are over age 65. Early Signs and Symptoms Diagnosing Parkinson’s can be difficult as some of the symptoms happen during the natural aging process. The Parkinson’s Foundation identifies the following 10 early signs of PD: Tremors or shaking of your hand, fingers or chin Small handwriting Loss of smell Sudden movements during sleep Stiffness when walking or moving Constipation Softer or lower voice volume Mad facial expression Feeling dizzy or faint Hunching or stooping posture A single sign may not point to the disease, but if you (or a loved one) has multiple signs, talk to your healthcare provider.
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