Getting to Know The Technology Around You

Women are often told to watch their surroundings, take self-defense classes and much more in order to protect themselves from the threat of violence. But threats are all around. Technology can pose one of the biggest threats as devices you use every day can, unfortunately, be used to spy on or monitor and control you. One of the simplest ways to protect yourself is to identify possible tech threats around you.

Below, reviews.com shares tips on identifying and understanding the devices you use every day from their article Safe Connectivity Tips for Domestic Violence Victims.

Identify and Understand the Technology Around You

If you’re living with your abuser, or still in a relationship with them in some way, the first step is to take an inventory of what smart technology devices are in your home. Abusers can use internet-, home network-, WiFi-, or Bluetooth-connected speakers, cameras, locks, doorbells and more to harass, stalk, harm and otherwise attempt to control your movements and activities.

They can also use smart toys and items designed to increase children’s safety, such as baby monitors, in invasive ways. NNEDV notes that some toys “come equipped with cameras, microphones, and speakers so the toys can interact with the child,” but most of these toys are not built with strong security protections and may give “unauthorized video or audio access … [that] could be used to stalk, control or harass a survivor.”

Make a list of all the devices you can find in your home and identify who installed them and who has access to the device’s account or app. Some tech is easily visible; other tech, such as motion sensors tucked on book shelves or in room corners, may be less obvious. If you are unsure what devices are currently active in your home, or are concerned some might be hidden, NNEDV has put together a detailed list of gadgets to look for, along with potential tactics abusers may attempt.

A few common household devices the NNEDV includes on its list:

  • Thermostat
  • Smoke detectors
  • Video doorbells
  • Entertainment systems
  • Smart lightbulbs
  • Appliances

NNEDV also suggests understanding the Wi-Fi you use and checking that Wi-Fi network history to see what devices are or have been connected. However, it also suggests you don’t simply delete the whole history because that may give your abuser a heads up that you’re looking into these issues.

Don’t simply delete your whole browsing history because that may give your abuser a heads up that you’re looking into these issues.

National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)

Once you’ve identified what’s being used in your home, educate yourself about how the devices work, how they’re being used and what information they might be tracking. And if you use technology like Google HomeAlexa, and Siri, there are ways you can opt out of the tracking features that come with them. Also figure out how to spot changes in the tech — whether it’s a device that begins working differently or a new device that appears in your home.

And recognize that what’s going on around you in your home may be happening specifically because your abuser is controlling this kind of tech. Graciela Rodriguez, who runs an emergency shelter at the Center for Domestic Peace in San Rafael, California, spoke with The New York Times about what she’s been hearing more recently from those accessing the shelter’s services. She told the New York Times that “some people had recently come in with tales of ‘the crazy-making things’ like thermostats suddenly kicking up to 100 degrees or smart speakers turning on blasting music. They feel like they’re losing control of their home. After they spend a few days here, they realize they were being abused.”

 

See the rest of the article here.

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What You Need to Know About Your Health Insurance Benefits

Guest post by a consumer organization

It’s no secret that choosing a health insurance plan isn’t as easy as ordering at a restaurant. Even after purchasing a plan, actually understanding what exactly you’ve purchased is yet another stressful task. Health insurance can confuse even the savviest consumers. Read on for a few tips every consumer should know when it comes to health insurance benefits.


Your health plan most likely offers essential health benefits.

All plans purchased through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace and the majority of health plans provided by employers are required to provide a core group of medical services called essential health benefits. These services include:

  • Ambulatory patient services
  • Emergency services
  • Hospitalization
  • Pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices
  • Laboratory services
  • Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
  • Pediatric services, including oral and vision care

To find the full list of services your plan covers and how much those services cost, check your Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC). You can request a copy of this document through your insurance company or access it via your online account through your insurance provider’s website.

Staying in network will save you money.

Visits to health care providers or facilities within your plan’s network are generally much cheaper than visits to out-of-network providers or facilities. The type of insurance policy you have plays a role in who participates in your plan’s network and how much you will pay if you choose to visit an out-of-network provider not covered by your plan. For example, HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) plans require you to select one primary care physician who will coordinate all of your health care services. With this plan, out-of-network providers are typically not covered at all, expect for true medical emergencies.

On the other hand, PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) plans allow you to visit any provider or specialist, in-network or out-of-network, and without a referral. Though your PPO plan may cover your out-of-network visit, you will pay more out-of-pocket for those services. Regardless of the type of plan you enroll in, be mindful of the providers in your network, as it can have a huge effect on your out-of-pocket costs.

All qualified health plans have cost-sharing limits.

All qualified health plans have an out-of-pocket maximum, which is the most you have to pay personally for covered services over the course of a year. All the money you pay for your deductible, coinsurance, and copays (but not premiums) goes toward your out-of-pocket maximum. Once you reach this limit, your insurance plan pays 100 percent for all covered medical services. Understanding how all potential out-of-pocket costs work together can be a little complicated, so here’s an example:

  • Suppose you are in a serious accident and have acquired $30,000 in medical expenses. Your health insurance plan offers a $2,000 deductible, 20 percent coinsurance, and a $5,000 out-of-pocket maximum for the year.
  • You would first be responsible for paying your deductible ($2,000).
  • After paying your deductible, you are responsible for your 20 percent coinsurance on the remaining $28,000 until you reach your out-of-pocket maximum.
  • Since 20 percent of $28,000 is $5,600, you would only be responsible for paying an additional $3,000 since your out-of-pocket maximum is $5,000. Your insurance plan would then pay 100 percent for all covered medical services thereafter.

Be on the lookout for new resources from the National Consumers League (NCL) and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) to help consumers choose and get the most out of their health insurance benefits.

Written by Sally Greenberg

Original Article

 

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UPIC Celebrates Third Quarterly Speaker Series

By Jessica Lay
April 19, 2019


Alice Paul, suffragist and contributor to the ERA. Image from alicepaul.org

The evening of Wednesday, April 16th, UPIC hosted its Third Quarterly Speaker Series. During this session, a speaker from Virginia Ratify came to discuss the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) with the team. What many people don’t know, is that the ERA has still not been ratified in 13 states, including: Utah, Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. So, what exactly is the Equal Rights Amendment?

The Equal Rights Amendment dates back to 1923, when Alice Paul and other suffragists added a handful of new words to the end of the 19th amendment. This culminated in a new amendment:

“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

As you see above, ERA aims to eliminate the denial of civil rights based off of one’s sex. This would include closing the gender wage gap for women in the workforce, and ensuring parental rights of fathers going through a divorce. Despite being written in 1923, the amendment wasn’t passed until 1972. It has yet to be ratified by the required 3/4 of all 50 states.

UPIC employees had the option to attend in person or watch the presentation virtually.

The Virginia chapter of Ratify ERA was our third in a series of guest speakers that UPIC features quarterly. Previously, our topics have discussed domestic violence and reproductive rights. The speaker series is one of the several enrichment opportunities that UPIC offers its employees, along with paid volunteer days and a mentorship program for new hires.

“I loved learning about VA Ratify’s work in the community to raise awareness. It motivated me to want to help spread the word and get involved with this movement. The speaker series helps me feel myself and UPIC are connected and current within our community.” -UPIC team member, Jessica Bisch

It’s always the goal of UPIC Health to align our actions with our values. Employee life enrichment is a major priority at UPIC, along with supporting causes we care about. This is why we thought VA Ratify would provide a wonderful guest speaker experience.


Author Jessica Lay is UPIC’s Program Lead for UPICares, the organization’s philanthropic initiative.  She spends half of her time assisting patients through UPIC’s contact center and recently completed a degree in Aging Services Management. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @UPICHealth.

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What is Revenue Cycle Management and Why Does it Matter?

Written by Erica Sobers

Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) is the process of utilizing medical billing software, that healthcare facilities use to track patient care episodes from registration and appointment scheduling to the final payment of a balance. (What is “Revenue Cycle Management“)

Financial management isn’t fun but it’s necessary for all healthcare organizations. Here at UPIC Health, we understand that cash flow is king. The “bottom line” is fundamental to every business. We are skilled and dedicated to eliminating as many barriers to care as possible for patients and providers alike. Most people only see one part of the process; patient scheduling, registration and payment collection. But that is just the beginning, as shown below, there are claims submissions, benefit verifications, and claims management. This helps to ease the process of maintaining financials and lets organizations focus on seeing patients.

Barriers to achieving an efficient RCM flow usually start at the front desk or when the appointment is made. Inaccuracies when collecting insurance information can cause huge issues including front desk staff thinking the patient does not have insurance, a lengthy verification process and patients being billed incorrectly and charged too much up front. Capturing patient data correctly is an essential component of the RCM process.

Having an efficient claims submission process can help detect costly errors in coding. Unidentified errors in the coding can result in patients being charged for services they did not receive or not being charged for services they did receive, leaving money on the table for the business.

Proper staff training, paying attention to detail and making sure no shortcuts are taken throughout the claims submissions process can all make a world of difference in the efficiency of the RCM process. At UPIC Health we are dedicated to making this process seamless for you.

 

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UPIC Team Member Knits to Aide Communities

By Jessica Lay
April 12, 2019


Carla came to work for UPIC Health in October of 2017 after working at a nursing home for one and a half years. She’s always had a passion for community involvement, and began a scarf business that sends a portion of the proceeds to countries in need. She agreed to an interview so we could learn more about her business, Y.M. Moda.


Carla knitting at her desk as she assists patients.

Funds from every Y.M. Moda purchase go towards relief projects benefiting Venezuela, Syria and Puerto Rico. What about those countries struck a chord with you?

I connected to those countries because I empathize deeply with the struggles of the people of each nation. With seeing each country’s humanitarian crisis, I learned that you could lose everything through no fault of your own, and you’ll only be left with what you have.

I’m not there physically, but we are still brothers and sisters. I wanted to help any way I could, because I was able and I knew that there were probably other Americans that felt the same way. In the end, all we have is each other.

Scarves are your main project right now- is there any symbolism behind the infinity scarf or any of the colors/patterns you use for your scarves?

Not particularly. I just choose patterns and colors that I like and build off of feedback from customers. I started off with scarves because I knew how to knit and it was something cheap that I could produce while I was at my desk, working my current full-time job as a Patient Care Coordinator at UPIC.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to start a business that aides their community?

Put your weight, faith, and passion in people, not money. If you’re doing the right thing, everything else will follow. Also, like anything else in life, it’s important to surround yourself with people headed in the same direction.

It’s clear you are very interested in activism and grassroots efforts to aid communities, where do you see yourself and Y.M. Moda heading in the future?

I hope to see Y.M. Moda empowering people anywhere possible. I hope my work helps stir change in communities and people with my products and message.

But on a local level, I hope to be able to reconnect and shine light on those around us by featuring local artists, writers, and ethically sourced materials down the line. I still have a long way to go though haha.

Y.M. Moda means You Matter Fashion, can you tell us a little about why you chose that name?

You Matter Fashion encompasses a couple of different ideas. The big two messages are:

  • I wanted every person (the model, the buyer, the benefactors of donations, and even people just encountering the scarf in passing) that came in contact with one of my pieces to feel empowered and to know that their existence matters.
  • It was also important to me to create fashion for regular people like me. Because regular people matter too (you know, since we’re the majority). I wanted to make clothing that made a statement, made you feel great, didn’t hurt or exploit anyone, and didn’t cost a million bucks.

What other causes/communities do you find yourself advocating or volunteering for outside of Y.M. Moda?

Lately I haven’t been as involved in volunteering as much as I’d like to, but when I do, I mostly hang out at the nursing home I used to work at. It helps me keep things in perspective.

Other organizations I’m interested in getting involved with later this year are: Black Lives Matter (D.C Chapter), GreenThinkers (an environmental conservation organization), and N Street Village in Washington, D.C.

How long have you been with UPIC? Has being a patient care coordinator and advocating for patient needs inspired you in any way?

I’m going on a year and some change working as a patient care coordinator at UPIC. The experience as a whole and working with the organizations we do has inspired me in some ways and it’s definitely helped put things in perspective.

I’ve learned that when you wage stakes for a cause you care about, you have to be ready to fight. Even when you’re attacked from all sides, even when they kick you when you’re down, even when they don’t play fair. You have to keep fighting, if not for you, then for the people you advocate for.

While working at UPIC I also learned that individuals have more power than they know. Thinking you’re just one person who can’t make a change is the biggest and saddest lie you can ever believe.

Finally, I’ve learned that sometimes, you have to start with ripples to make waves. And sometimes it’s gonna take a few whacks before you get it right.

What tips do you have for balancing caring for others and caring for yourself?

[Laughs] I haven’t mastered that yet, but some things I’m trying to implement into my life are:

  • Make time to reset when you have to, or you’ll always feel overwhelmed and discouraged.
  • Get a planner. If you refuse to sit still, structure is needed. You’re not superman.
  • Don’t be afraid to deal with what you feel, its necessary for growth.
  • And most important: Make sure you’re okay. If you’re not good, you can’t help anyone else.

How long have you been knitting? Do you have any plans to expand your line to include other items?

I originally learned to knit when I was in high school and would take up knitting on and off since then. (Fun fact: I took up knitting consistently after UPIC held a clothing drive and I made scarves to donate. It set off a pretty cool chain reaction.)

Also, Yes! I do! I’d like to venture into making other women’s clothing, jewelry, and accessories. Little by little though, but stay tuned!

Information about Y.M. Moda can be found on the website and Instagram.


Author Jessica Lay is UPIC’s Program Lead for UPICares, the organization’s philanthropic initiative.  She spends half of her time assisting patients through UPIC’s contact center and recently completed a degree in Aging Services Management. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @UPICHealth.

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It’s Stress Awareness Month: Five Tips To Help You De-Stress On The Job

By Erica Sobers
April 05, 2019


April is Stress Awareness Month. Stress can negatively affect us by manifesting itself physically, emotionally and even mentally. Stressors can come from all around, but- occupational stress, as the name suggests, is directly related to your job. Occupational stress is usually caused by overbearing workloads, job dissatisfaction, and work environment. With long hours, life and death situations, and pressure to always be at the top of their game, it’s no surprise that health care workers and first responders have some of the highest reported cases of stress.

Burnout-emotional, mental and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged stress is especially prevalent within medical occupations. This not only affects their ability to effectively treat patients but can also spill into their personal lives.  Some organizations are even putting tactics in place to help their employees avoid burnout.

Here are five ways to help de-stress:

Take Time Off

This may seem like a no-brainer but guilt keeps a lot of people from taking the vacation time or PTO they’ve earned. Take a vacation not only because you’ve earned it, but because separating yourself from your day to day life and getting a change of scenery can be the reset you need to go back to work clear headed and ready to work efficiently.

Meditate

Mindfulness Meditation is a practice that incorporates tactics such as breathing exercises and guided imagery that is meant to help you focus and clear your mind from distractions for a few minutes a day.  Try this free Mindfulness Training Challenge.

Get Moving

Exercise releases endorphins that help reduce stress.  During your lunch break or when you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a brief break to walk outside and get some sun. This can help clear your mind and when done often helps trim your waistline.

                                          Get Some Zzz’s

Sleep is essential and can help reduce the side effects of burnout and stress. Because health care workers often have to make life or death decisions, being alert is especially important to have sound judgment. If you feel tapped out and don’t have time for hours of rest, short naps are a great way to recharge.

 Connect

Relationships are vital to humans. Having social support allows you to talk about what’s on your mind in a familiar space. Support from friends and family can also help you feel like you are not the only one dealing with stress.

 

 


Author Erica Sobers has been with UPIC since its inception in 2014 and has had her hand in just about everything at UPIC.  She spends half of her time assisting patients through UPIC’s contact center and recently helped launch the move from one CRM to another. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @UPICHealth.

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EMRs – Meaningless Use?

By Mary Tucker
March 26, 2019


Mary Tucker

UPIC Health CEO, Mary Tucker.

I read with interest Fortune magazine’s article about electronic health records (EHRs) and how they have not lived up to the promise they heralded back when our economy was bottoming out and the Obama administration allocated stimulus money to their adoption. It was a gold rush ten years ago in Health Technology, and as the article points out, not only has it not lived up to the promises, but in fact safety issues are mounting as a result. The company eClinicalWorks (eCW) took the brunt of the heat in this article. My company, UPIC Health, can certainly attribute many challenges with eCW in our own shop. But is it entirely the fault of EHRs? I don’t think so. And is there a way out without throwing out all the time and effort that’s gone into them over the last 10 years? Most definitely yes!

We’ve witnessed these tech gold rushes before in other industries and have experienced disappointing results. There is a significant missing link that is acutely resolvable once identified: Intention. Tech Sector is very young and yet across all industries and all demographics, we have submitted ourselves to it without taking the time to understand its purpose and use to human beings. We expect technology to solve big problems with the press of a button. We expect coders to understand the intricacies of business process and miraculously create a turnkey solution that all will adopt with an emailed description and a link to sign up. That may work for Angry Birds, but cardiac interventions – not so much.

Health technology – like any technology – should be employed to facilitate meaningful human connections.

Chasing down a lost pharmacy submission is not meaningful – its operational (and necessary). Understanding why the pharmacy submission got lost is more critical and imperative BEFORE launching any technology to understand and have documented the operational business processes as they are today and what the dream state would look like with the use of technology. Patient touch-points (such as phone, web, email, portal, front desk, back office, pharmacy, lab, etc.) should be evaluated and the patient process documented; compliance processes for each individual in the chain should be evaluated for opportunities to simplify, and exceptions should be understood.

Ten years ago, though, who had that kind of time? The economy needed stimulating, and in hindsight (despite Fortune’s poke in the industry’s eye) it’s still a good thing the gold rush happened. The new question is “now what?” You have spent millions on your EHR – do you just toss it out and start over? (Interestingly, I had an outpatient procedure a week ago and the entire process was on paper…) However, it is not worth abandoning the train when you’re halfway to your destination.

First, I recommend you start with your patient processes – spend time in your contact centers listening to calls, chats, portal interactions, and emails. Are your patients bounced around from group to group depending on what their need is? Are they calling and emailing multiple times to get their questions answered? That’s your first opportunity to identify your first Intention – minimize the steps to care for the patient! Remember – the greater the patient effort, the greater the cost to you. This focus will help you map how you want your EHR technology and make access to care smoother for the patient. This mapping can then be documented and submitted to tech development teams to use as their guide. Following, I offer these recommendations:

  • Identify your first Intention (minimizing the steps patients must take to access care).
  • Look at your Revenue Cycle Process – how much are you paying your EHR vendor and what percent of your claims have been denied and why? Begin with the Intention to understand the steps to cash to help identify current state and where the failures are happening.
  • Observe the uses of EHR by clinical and administrative staff throughout a care scenario – what failed? Where and why did it fail? What would the perfect process look like? Your clinical and admin staff will tell you.
  • Be Intentional about interoperability – if we know we haven’t cracked this nut yet, don’t expect the nut to miraculously crack on its own. Know the process for referrals as it is today and determine if there’s a midway point between your EHR, your staff, other providers in your network, and your patients. Think of bringing in a lean six-sigma team now who can do this work for you – this is what they do and it is worth the effort.

If you sustain your intentions to simplify with the understanding technology should facilitate meaningful human connections – and you have a view into where those connections have no meaning or value – you’ll be in a position to identify what you need in your EHR, what you’re missing, and a road map to repair.


Mary Tucker is CEO of UPIC Health, a contact center and revenue cycle management outsourcing firm focused on meaningful engagement in care. UPIC Health is based in Chantilly and Norfolk, Va. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter @UPICHealth. 

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Paying It Forward

By Erica Sobers


Empathy and empowerment are the backbones of everything we do at UPIC so it’s no surprise these hardworking individuals who work advocate for women every day also apply that outside the office.  After all, our motto is Be Happy. Be Awesome. Help others with 1 & 2. Continuing with the theme of Mentoring Month I spoke with Natalie a UPIC employee who, in addition to being a patient care coordinator, is a Narcotics Anonymous Sponsor. While a mentor mostly takes on an advisory role a sponsor advocates for the sponsee. Natalie gave insight on what she does and why this not only is beneficial for her sponsee but for her as well. 

What is a sponsor? What do you do?
A sponsor is someone who is in recovery themselves that helps other people with the 12 step program. They are someone that you can confide in and talk to about recovery, addiction, and the 12 steps.
I am a sponsor for narcotics anonymous. I have been clean for 15 years and my drug of choice was crack. I help people in recovery who need someone to talk to that they normally can not tell someone who is not in recovery. I am someone that people can confide in about addiction, recovery and living a clean and sober life.

 

Why did you choose to become a sponsor? I believe in paying it forward. I want to help others, just as others helped me.

“A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” – Maya Angelou

What about this work is rewarding for you? It is so beautiful to watch someone go from their darkest moment to a bright shining light.  Sometimes people have trouble getting out of addiction because their self-esteem is so low and using drugs is all they know. They do not think they can change. Some people just do not know where to go or how to get clean. Sometimes people just need to know that they are not the only one who has struggled with addiction and they just need someone to reach their hand out and to say I can help you.

Often times the sponsor/sponsee relationship is mutually beneficial. Would you say this role has helped you? This role has helped me in my own recovery because I get to speak with people every day who are in recovery and I remember what it was like for myself when I first got clean.  It is not easy and knowing that there are people out there going through the same thing helps me in my own recovery. 

Any advice to anyone thinking about being a mentor/volunteer/tutor etc but doesn’t know where to look? Look in the place where you would like to help people. Most places like hospitals are looking for volunteers. If you want to help children or older adults then call around and say you would like to volunteer. Some places even if they do not use volunteers, they can refer you to places that do. If you need help finding somewhere, let me know. I can help you!


Author Erica Sobers has been with UPIC since its inception in 2014 and has had her hand in just about everything at UPIC.  She spends half of her time assisting patients through UPIC’s contact center and recently helped launch the move from one CRM to another. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @UPICHealth.

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UPICares Volunteer Turns Mentor

By Erica Sobers
Jan. 17, 2018


Jessica Lay has been with UPIC since December 2015. In July 2016 she started volunteering with N Street Village, an organization in Washington D.C. that empowers women to be their highest quality selves by providing varied programs and services to help them. Since then, our relationship with them has transcended into an amazing partnership.

 In June 2018, Jessica began work as the Community Involvement Lead for UPICares, UPIC’s philanthropic initiative. Her relationship with N Street Village eventually transformed into being the Workforce Development Leader where she creates tailored training plans (including taking a pre and post survey) to help clients of women’s organizations, including N Street Village and Friends of Guest House, learn and practice skills needed to find and maintain employment.

I spoke with her about what the program means to her, the importance of community involvement, and how this role has work has helped her grow.


You started volunteering with N Street Village in 2016 and you have helped it grow into a wonderful “partnership” within UPIC. What about N Street Village appealed to you?

N Street Village was actually introduced to me by Mary [CEO of UPIC Health] when I came to her with the idea to organize a donation drive for feminine hygiene products, which turned into also serving a meal at the village’s night shelter. I remember being so impressed and energized after touring the organization. Everyone on staff is very clearly passionate about their work. They do so much to support the women that come to their door, anything from providing mental healthcare to dental work. It felt like the perfect place to start a volunteer partnership. After my first time volunteering, I knew it would continue to hold a special place in my heart.

What about this work is rewarding for you?

I fully believe that the workforce development program will be beneficial to clients of these organizations. Not only does the program aid in skill development, [but] it can also be used as a resume builder. This is especially important for people who have been out of the workforce for an extended period of time- for example, those who have experienced homelessness or incarceration. It’s rewarding to me to be able to pass along the skills I’ve learned over time and use them to help others.

What has been your favorite lesson to date? Why?

I have two that I can think of. I close out the program with a session on self-care. Everybody has their own idea of what self-care is, and some people aren’t very big on it. It’s a huge thing for me and I could probably talk about it all day, given the chance. I remember having such a great, out-of-box discussion with the women at N Street [Village] on what self-care means to different people. That’s what I really love most about these lessons; being able to hear individual stories, experiences, and perceptions. It makes the sessions way more interesting and I think it’s very beneficial for the clients.

The other one was during the first session at Friends of Guest House, which is an organization that helps women who have just gotten out of the prison system to re-enter the community. I had them practice their handshakes as part of that day’s activity, and I thought that while it was kind of a fun and silly icebreaker, it’s really important as the first step in any professional relationship to have a solid handshake. I liked the way it helped to break barriers and start the sessions on the right foot.

Often times this type of work is mutually beneficial. How would you say this role has helped you?   

It’s not every day that someone has days during their nine to five that they feel like they’re coming alive. I find myself buzzing with energy after every class I teach, and thinking of things to include in the next session all week. I’ve definitely bettered my public speaking skills and am more confident when walking into a room of people I’m not familiar with. I consider myself lucky to work for a company that values employees interests and do-good spirit.

Any advice to anyone thinking about volunteering but doesn’t know where to look or how to start?

When it comes to volunteering, I find that it’s very easy to marry your interests with what is currently needed in your community. Look on public boards like your county’s website or even Facebook. Ask friends and coworkers about places they may have volunteered before. Even if you just sign up for a clean-up day in a local park, it’s an opportunity to see what’s out there and how you can help in your neighborhood. I bet you won’t regret the time you spend giving back!


Author Erica Sobers has been with UPIC since its inception in 2014 and has had her hand in just about everything at UPIC.  She spends half of her time assisting patients through UPIC’s contact center and recently helped launch the move from one CRM to another. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @UPICHealth.

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UPIC Volunteers Show Holiday Giving Spirit

By Jessica Lay
Dec. 31, 2018


Thursday, December 13th was the perfect night for three UPIC volunteers to serve a warm meal to the residents of the Patricia Handy Place for Women, a short-term emergency housing facility run by N St Village. Lovingly known as Pat Handy Place, the shelter opens it’s doors to over 200 women per night. Volunteers were welcomed immediately upon walking into the shelter by staff and the women seeking shelter there alike. We served up a warm meal which was provided by local organizations, including DC Central Kitchen, to thankful shelter clients.

For UPICares, the ability to volunteer during work hours is an incredible experience.

Volunteering at the Patricia Handy Place for Women was a new experience for me, and a great one at that! Being able to take time out of my day to help serve food at the women’s shelter was amazing. I have always loved to help people, no matter what it is, and doing things like this actually makes a difference in peoples lives and I am glad to be apart of it. – Glori, UPICares Volunteer

Because of N St’s warmth and whole person approach to caring for the women that find themselves in a tight spot. they see many success stories; like Catherine, a woman who came to N St in 2016 and has been thriving ever since.

Also during the month of December, the Chantilly and Norfolk offices worked together to raise donations for a coat drive benefiting HER Shelter, which serves women and children survivors of domestic violence. The shelter received two coats, eight sweaters, and 93 items of warm clothing thanks to the combined efforts of the two UPIC offices.

UPIC is looking forward to continuing to make a positive impact on our clients, patients, and community in the coming year.


Author Jessica Lay is UPIC’s Program Lead for UPICares, the organization’s philanthropic initiative.  She spends half of her time assisting patients through UPIC’s contact center and recently completed a degree in Aging Services Management. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @UPICHealth.

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