A day in the life of Dan Asbury, administrative service manager for the Division of Management Services

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Photo of Dan Asbury at his desk

Working at the desk in his basement office is not Dan Asbury’s natural habitat. If you are looking for him, you probably won’t find him sitting still. Dan’s job keeps him traveling throughout Idaho while building relationships and problem-solving with his co-workers – always with his trademark smile.

From the concrete tunnels below the streets of Boise to the pristine mountain ranges of Coeur d’Alene, Dan Asbury’s workspace transcends the confines of a typical cubicle. On any given day, his office might be in a construction zone, or at the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories, or maybe in his car as he drives along the Snake River to Twin Falls.

Dan, who is the Department of Health and Welfare’s (DHW) administrative service manager for the Division of Management Services, could have been the muse for English poet Geoffrey Chaucer when he coined the phrase “busy as a bee.” His responsibilities are extraordinarily diverse and range from getting the motor-pool cars ready for the road to using his engineering skills (with the help of some special software) to creatively design new office spaces. Dan rarely sits still as his job requires both reasoning skills and physical activity. There is always something to do when it comes to facilities management.

Dan has been with the department for two years, and he is proud to work behind the scenes and support those who provide services directly to many Idahoans. “I would encourage people to get to know DHW. We really care about the future of our state.”

“Dan is an action-oriented guy,” says Amy Swann, Dan’s supervisor and the Bureau Chief for the Division of Management Services. “He works hard each day to support a huge and diverse list of facility needs across the department. Dan strives to support, learn, and grow amidst the chaos of each demanding day. I consider Dan and his entire facilities team a critical part of our division’s stability and success, and I am grateful for all their hard work.” Continue reading

Behavioral Health Crisis Centers – A helping hand for Idahoans in need

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On an unseasonably warm day early this winter, a young man in a too-long sweater, socks, and baggy grey sweatpants sits outside the doors of an unassuming building near the Boise Towne Square mall, staring at the sky, not acknowledging the occasional passers-by.

DHW Innovation logo with green and blueJust a couple years ago, this man could have easily found himself in a local emergency department waiting for help, in the back of a police car, or on the streets while suffering through a mental health or substance use disorder crisis. But since Dec. 12, 2017, Boise has offered another option: Pathways Community Crisis Center of Southwest Idaho.

After passing through a security check and taking a medical wellness screening, visitors have access to a warm place to stay for the day, food and coffee, a shower and change of clothes, and most importantly – the opportunity to leave with a plan. Having a safety and treatment plan helps visitors to not only avoid a future crisis, but to also work toward recovery from their behavioral health issues. They leave with hope. Hope in the knowledge that there is a place they can find someone to help them regardless of their financial situation. The help could be a peer specialist with personal experience in recovery, a counselor, or a crisis clinician or case manager. They know they aren’t alone in their struggle.

This sign greets clients as they enter Boise’s Pathways Community Crisis Center of Southwest Idaho in Boise. These crisis centers are designed to offer an effective alternative to hospitalization and incarceration to people who may be in mental health or substance-use related crisis.

This sign greets clients as they enter Boise’s Pathways Community Crisis Center of Southwest Idaho in Boise. These crisis centers are designed to offer an effective alternative to hospitalization and incarceration to people who may be in mental health or substance-use related crisis.

“They can feel the sense of urgency is lifting just as they’re working through the intake,” Program Manager Bert Schweickart said. Even being able to wash visitors’ clothes and hand them back cleaned and dried as they leave can have a significant impact on those who are suffering through crisis.

“If they have the impetus to show up, we have the obligation to let them in and do what we can to solve the issue they have,” Bert said. Sometimes, during the initial medical wellness screening, the crisis team determine that they need to be medically stabilized in a more intensive setting before using the crisis center services. When this happens, the team can refer them to the emergency department or advise them to seek other medical care so that they can return when they are stabilized. Pathways provides transportation for visitors who need to be stabilized so they can return and seek help with their crisis. Continue reading

Music therapy: Helping us all engage in new ways

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Kate Schnieder, board-certified music therapist at The Lotus Tree Sensory Integration Center in Boise, guides her piano duet with Client N as they work up to the grand finale of their piano duet.

Kate Schnieder, board-certified music therapist at The Lotus Tree Sensory Integration Center in Boise, guides her piano duet with Client N as they work up to the grand finale of their piano duet.

As her fingers gracefully dance over the keyboard, Kate Schnieder, board-certified music therapist at The Lotus Tree Sensory Integration Center in Boise, guides her piano duet partner, Client N, with sing-song directions. “Now, play with two fin-gers … three fin-gers … fo-ur …” Client N catches on to the pattern and takes over, exclaiming, “Five! Six!” The notes ring true, as Client N reads from color-coded sheet music and strikes the corresponding color-coded keys on the keyboard.

Playing louder and louder, she reaches the point where all 10 fingers are crashing down on the keyboard. Kate and Client N reach the end of the notes on the page, and Client N takes a deep breath. She finishes the song dramatically, in grand concert style, with a final decisive strike on the keys – wrists arched, fingers straight in little teepee arrangements, head thrown back triumphantly. She pauses, allowing the final notes to echo through the room before fading away.

A shy grin spreads across her face and she whispers to Kate, “Did they see?” She wants to check whether we had noticed her captivating performance from across the room. Continue reading

What should Idahoans know about the 2019 novel coronavirus?

The national and international situation with the novel coronavirus is rapidly evolving, with the number of cases and deaths changing daily. Public Health officials around the world are working around the clock to understand this new respiratory virus so they can contain it and keep more people from getting infected.

How high is the possibility of people in Idaho getting sick with this virus?

The general risk here in Idaho is fairly low at this point, but public health officials want people to be aware so they can take appropriate precautions. We’re asking you to follow steps you are probably already taking for flu – stay home if you’re sick, avoid sick people, and cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue (not your hands). Wash your hands frequently, especially after you have been in the public and touched door handles, stair railings, money, grocery carts, elevator buttons, and other items that lots of other people may also have touched. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China.

If you think you’ve been exposed, should you go to a clinic or doctor’s office?

If you or someone you know has been in one of the affected areas, believe you may have been exposed to someone who was sick and develop symptoms, call your medical provider to determine next steps. Don’t just head to the clinic or doctor’s office because you risk infecting more people in those settings. Continue reading

It’s American Heart Month. Do you know your heart health?

It’s probably no coincidence that February is American Heart Month. It’s a good time for conversations about matters of the heart, and it’s a great time to talk to your healthcare provider about your blood pressure and cholesterol so you can figure out if you are at risk for heart disease. Nationally, heart disease is the leading cause of death for adults.

Heart disease, as we all know, can lead to a heart attack. Can you remind us about the symptoms of a heart attack?

Not everyone who has a heart attack will have all of these signs. In fact, men and women often have different symptoms. The most common signs of a heart attack include chest pain or discomfort, pain or discomfort in the upper body, trouble breathing, feeling sick to your stomach or vomiting, stomach ache or heartburn, feeling light-headed or unusually tired, and breaking out in a cold sweat.

If you have any of these symptoms and think you might be having a heart attack, call 911 immediately.

How can symptoms be different for women?

Just like men, the most common symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But it’s important to note that women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure. Women may instead experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in their lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure, or extreme fatigue. Continue reading

A Day in the Life: The residential habilitation certification team ensures safety, quality care for residents

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Sandi Frelly and Michaela Tourville, medical program specialists, meet with residential habilitation agency staff during an agency survey.

The Division of Licensing and Certification – not to be confused with Vital Records or Occupational Licenses – licenses and certifies 18 distinct healthcare facilities and agency types in Idaho on an ongoing basis to make sure residents are safe and are receiving high-quality care.

Residential Habilitation (ResHab) agencies are relatively young agencies, born in the 1990s when there was a big push to integrate people with developmental and/or physical disabilities into the community and out of state-run facilities. ResHab facilities are funded by Medicaid, and provide caretaking and education services to help adults 18 and older and who qualify for the program to learn to live more independently in the community with staff support.

Participants may receive support from ResHab staff that could range from caretaker visits of a few hours per day, to a high or intense level of support, such as 24-hour one-to one support. ResHab staff help participants by providing skills training. This can include multiple areas of skills, such as medication management, daily living skills, socialization, behavior shaping and management, mobilization, and self-direction, which is an option for Medicaid participants who choose which services and supports they will spend their budget on.

The goal is to reduce the level of services participants need by teaching the skills participants need to be safe in the community with minimal support. Every participant has a different plan that is developed with the person-centered planning team to fit their individual needs. Participants sometimes learn skills as simple as wiping a counter top, to complex skills such as identifying and taking the correct bus route, which will increase their independence in mobility.

The Boise ResHab survey team is responsible for protecting these participants by ensuring that the services provided by ResHab staff and facilities are high quality and compliant with all of the rules and regulations they are subject to. The team for this survey includes Eric Brown, Sandi Frelly, and Michaela Tourville. “This job allows me the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities,” Sandi said. Continue reading

Cervical cancer screenings prevent cancer – every woman should be screened regularly

All women, especially those over the age of 30, are at risk for developing cervical cancer, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s also the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent. Regular screenings are the most effective way to find the disease early and treat it. Unfortunately, Idaho has the lowest rate for cervical screening in the United States. January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to learn more and get screened!

Who is most at risk?

Almost all cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed from one person to another during sex. HPV is so common that most people get it at some time in their lives. For most women, HPV will go away on its own; however, if it does not, there is a chance that over time it may cause cervical cancer. Other factors increasing the risk of cervical cancer are not getting screened, being HIV positive, and smoking. Smoking doubles a woman’s risk of getting cervical cancer.

What are the most common symptoms?

There are typically no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. That’s why regular screening is so important. Continue reading