Fulfilling Health Calls Mission One Relationship At A Time


Health Calls received an unsolicited testimonial from a family this past week. It makes us so proud and speaks to Health Calls Mission.

‘Health Calls is a wonderful service! All of the nurses are of the highest quality and you really establish a relationship with them.


Health Calls is always available and ready to help no matter the time! I’d never use another agency with my mom’s care!


Congrats (to) everyone… associated with this fine organization!’

As invited guests in people’s homes, we must negotiate care. We cannot simply “do”. This is a shift in the perspective  that often accompanies health care provided in a hospital or other clinical settings. In those settings, the structure and processes require patients to adapt to the organization.

In home health, we are the guests.  The ‘house rules’ could get in the way. Instead, Health Calls staff is focused on teamwork, alongside other community professionals to treat patients where they live. This requires actively listening to the patient and family: finding out what is important, what can be negotiated, and then aid and inspire patients to become informed about their conditions and take an active role in their treatment.

The balance of power shifts away from the healthcare team to the individual and their family in a healthy partnership. We support the patient and family while they build skills, and foster their confidence to continue to lead active and fulfilling lives, long after our work
is done.

We are thankful to be invited!

Stand Up For Social Work


Recently I had the experience of attending a specialty medical clinic with a family member and we were told one of the people we would be meeting with would be a social worker. An uncomfortable concern entered into mind. Why do we need a social worker? The need for a social worker’s help usually comes during difficulty or perhaps even an unpleasant encounter that will result in a life-changing event. In our situation, the purpose of a social worker was to introduce us to a world of information and support. With this information, we would never feel that we were alone with the new diagnosis. Social workers are champions.

The nation’s 650,000 social workers are champions for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. They stand up by comforting people who are experiencing devastating illnesses and mental health crises, ensuring they get best possible care while on the road to recovery. They stand up and support military personnel, veterans and their families, immigrants, people living with disabilities and people who are LGBTQ.

Child, family and school social workers stand up by protecting children who have been abused and neglected, helping children find new families through adoption, and ensuring young people reach their full academic and personal potential. And social workers work in communities and with national, state and local government to provide services and pass legislation to stand with and help people with the most needs.

Health Calls is fortunate to have three social workers on our team and while each of their roles are different, they are champions in helping our patients and families.

Sue Davidson,B.S. has medical social work experience and uses her skills as Health Calls referral liaison, making visits to patients at the bedside while in the hospital or rehab. She provides a bridge of knowledge and information for patients and families prior to the move back home. She educates the family about our services and educates them as well as making sure that the agency has as much information as possible to ease patients into a safe transition to home.

Aaron Rimby, B.S.W. also has medical social work experience and uses his skills to provide patients and families important information about their insurance benefit and any responsibilities that they might have for home health services. Since some Medicare Advantage and commercial insurance plans have co-pays, and patients may still have a financial deductible that needs to be met, hearing from Aaron prior to the first home health visit lessens anxieties ahead of the visit. Families are better prepared for the home health team’s first visit knowing and accepting any financial responsibility with Aaron’s communications. Aaron is frequently a communications bridge to the team. Aaron is a champion as he provides additional reinforcement to the information that Sue or another referral liaison may have already covered. Families are frequently in crisis mode and overwhelmed as they transition to home and Aaron adds a level of comfort along the path home.

Lillian Chinicci, M.S.W., L.S.W. is the agency’s medical social worker. Lillian provides home health visits to patients and families to support and advise, provides referral to community services and make recommendations to families about additional supports available. Lillian is a champion in her insight, knowledge of resources and her ability to facilitate communication between family members and to find common ground for stressed families in need of referrals to community services to help them.


Individually they stand up with their skill and expertise, making a positive impact for each individual family they encounter. Collectively, they stand up to strengthen the agency’s ability to meet the needs of all families Health Calls provides services to. Champions!

Happy Social Work Month! #SWMonth #SWStandUp http://www.socialworkmonth.org

Social Work: A Model For Calm in Often Stormy Conditions

I recently asked Lillian Chinicci, MSW LSW what piece of advice about life she would offer to others.

It is never too late to achieve your goals.   I was 53 when I lost my husband.  My children were married and out on their own.  I decided to go back to school.  I earned my bachelor’s degree in Social Work and then continued on to earn a Masters degree  in Social Work.  My license to practice Social Work in Pennsylvania is very important to me, ” Lillian said.

Lillian has been Health Calls Clinical Social Worker for 5 1/2 years and says she loves her job helping Health Calls patients.  “It feels good to make a positive difference in the lives of patients and their families, when I can. ” Lillian realizes that not everyone is ready for the weighty decisions that her work forces people to face about living situations, getting additional help at home or making potentially life-altering changes. Lillian is a patient and wise clinician who knows that the impact of her visits may not be measured immediately; many that she advises will hold off enacting on her counsel to some point in the future.

One of the many agencies that Lillian refers families to is Berks Encore. Lillian says one of many services is the legal services available at Berks Encore. Legal Aid is very helpful for families who cannot afford an attorney but have legal needs. There are qualifying financial guidelines for the pro bono services to prepare simple wills and power of attorney documents, but the staff at Berks Encore are very helpful in determining qualifications. Lillian also recommends the volunteer grocery shopping services that Redner’s Market and Berks Encore have partnered to provide to those in need of the service throughout the Berks County community.

Lillian is a role model with a giving heart and service to others. She volunteers for a local hospice agency, offering friendly visits to patients at the end of life, so they are not alone. Lillian is also a role model at Health Calls Home Health Agency. She deals with difficult family dynamics with grace and a serene calm. She is gifted at helping patients and their families identify needs and focuses on what is best for the well-being of the patient. Lillian keeps conversations positive and finds common ground to help families find agreement in stressful situations and makes referrals to the appropriate community service to help them.

Lillian lives with her 7 year old Persian cat, Enzo.  She has a son, Robert, who just retired from the Navy, after 20 years of service.  He served on Submarines.  Her step-daughter is a Veterinary Technician.  She  has 7 grandchildren, ranging from ages 15 months to 23 years old. Lillian’s  mother is 91 years old and lives alone in her own home, in Lancaster County.  Lillian also assists her weekly with grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, and doctor’s appointment.  

Lillian recently overcame a fear that she is proud of. She always had a fear of driving long distances to unfamiliar places since she gets lost easily. She has overcome that fear and has traveled to Virginia and Connecticut to visit her son and his family in recent years.

Recipe for the Role: Mix Compassion with Humor

imagePeg Stoudt RN, Health Calls RN Health Transitions Coach and Referral Liaison joined the Health Calls team four years ago. Peg saw nursing as a natural career choice because of her passion to meet and help people every day. Peg learns and finds each experience a new gift every day. Peg says its very hard defining just one memorable moment in her career; she finds what awes her is the strength of connection, the ability to communicate with people on an eye to eye and heart to heart level. This has never disappointed her and makes her encounters in helping people the most fun and memorable.

Compassion came early to Peg. When she was a child, she says she would lock herself in her bedroom on Sunday nights as she feared Lassie would die on TV and she couldn’t bear to watch. Today, Peg is no longer afraid, and she views death as a celebration. While Peg loves life, she believes there is a bigger party in heaven and has hope to “go home” after her journey is done here.

In the meantime, Peg lives life with humor and laughter every day.

My dad gave me these gifts. He was a huge inspiration to me. While life gives us challenges, humor and laughter inspire me to never give up.

I  have fun every day and I want to be known as a great friend, mother, wife, Grammy, sister, nurse, and occasionally…as Santa Claus.

In fact, Santa showed up at the Health Calls Christmas party this year and can be found at the Christmas party for the Keystone Villa “Healthy Snacks Program”, one of several wellness programs Peg facilitates throughout the year.

Peg works hard every day as an advocate for patients and their families, helping to set up Health Calls home health visits to meet the medical needs of the Berks County community. Outside of her professional life, a Peg volunteers at her church, Glad Tidings and hopes to travel on a mission trip with her church some day and to volunteer for hospice when she retires.

The Power of Rehabilitation at Home

During National Rehabilitation Awareness Week, we pause to recognize the excellence of our therapists. Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Therapists and Nurses all work to help people overcome obstacles and accomplish the daily activities we do every day but tend to take for granted.

How can therapists accomplish what is needed when a patient needs to receive therapy at home? Many who are used to the big equipment in a therapy gym often don’t know how therapists adapt therapy to very effectively treat people at home. Home Health therapists have a unique ability to use common household objects for the patient’s therapeutic gain at home. Here are just a few creative ways therapists obtain amazing results with patients in the home setting.

Picnic Cups  are useful for training patients to increase leg strength by encouraging them to step higher, to improve walking balance and to improve the sense the of where feet are while walking. The cups are placed on the floor and the patient walks through or over the cups in an obstacle course, with the mapped path set up to match a degree of difficulty individualized to the patient’s abilities.

Aerobic steppers  and short wooden boxes are useful as a starting place for learning to navigate curbs, thresholds, and steps before advancing on to higher surfaces such as outdoor curbs and stairs.

Yoga stretching strap with loops are helpful to place around the leg while lying down on one’s belly, to stretch the leg into a more flexed position. This is useful, for example in improving a person’s knee range of motion after surgery.

Knee extender is portable and easy to bring to patients for treatment at home. The device is used to extend the knee to 0 degrees, an important goal after a knee replacement.


Balance foam creates instabilityImage result for balance foam for physical therapy to challenge balance. Therapists work with the patient on movement while standing on the foam to improve balance and reduce the risk of falling.


Image result for heel slides exercises

Image result for furniture sliders for carpetFurniture movers provide a smooth gliding surface and prevent drag resistance against the underlying surface caused by fabric on sheets or bed covers when performing exercises while lying down

Resistance bands are light weight and portable to use to improve muscle strength of arms Image result for therabands for physical therapyand legs and may be used alone or along with weights for therapy.



The most important benefit of therapy provided at home is providing therapy in the setting where a person lives. (Click on the blue words for additional information).

If a person is at risk for falling or has limited strength and mobility, the kitchen, bathroom, narrow walking paths steep stairs with shallow treads all offer potential hazards and increase the potential for an injurious fall.

Therapists provide a critical eye and make recommendations for adjusting the set-up of a room and how to move through the home environment to improve safety and prevent falls.

Health Calls Home Health Agency’s team of rehabilitation specialists are talented, compassionate, patient, and have tremendous character. We honor the work they do every day to improve the quality of patients lives which supports people to stay where we all want to be: home!


Health Calls: Preferred Provider with Penn State Health Partners

Health Calls is proud to announce a preferred partner agreement with Penn State Health Partners. Health Calls remains a privately owned independent home health agency, owned by Mike Little and Maria Radwanski. The contracted agreement signed with Penn State Health Partners adds Health Calls Home Health Agency as a preferred partner in the Clinical Integrated Network made up of independently owned and operated health care organizations and physician groups working together to improve the population’s health, improve the health care experience for those served while stabilizing health care costs.

28161913 - cropped image of doctors shaking hands at desk in clinic

Health Calls joins Penn State Health Partners as a preferred provider.

This clinical integrated network encompasses Mt. Nittany Hospital in Centre County, St. Joseph Regional Health Network in Berks County, and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Hospital in Dauphin County; and a network of over 1,000 physicians in Berks County, Centre County, Dauphin, Schuylkill, Lebanon, and Lancaster counties. The post-acute network also includes skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies. Health Calls provides home health services in Berks County and some surrounding neighborhoods.

Mike Little, Chief Executive Officer, stated that “Health Calls was chosen as preferred partner because of our outcomes: the work that staff do every day is reflected in our patient clinical score improvements, low re-hospitalization rates, and customer satisfaction scores. This mirrors the caring our staff provide day in and day out.”

The clinical integrated network is also an accountable care organization, responsible for over 30,000 lives in a Medicare shared savings program.
“Health Calls will be charged with the responsibility for clinical outcomes and quality programs of the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and St. Joseph Hospital network patients referred for services who are part of the Medicare Shared Savings Plan, orthopedic bundled payment program as well as other anticipated bundled payment programs coming soon,” stated Maria Radwanski RN MSN CRRN, the agency’s Chief Operating Officer.

Goals of the Penn State Health Partners are to enhance the patient experience of care, improve the health of the population of patients contracted to treat and care for, and stabilize the rising costs of health care.

Heat-related Illnesses: What You Need to Know Now

It’s very hot and humid out, reaching the 100 degree mark today and this weekend. A few summers ago, I wrote this article about heat and heat-related illness that I think is worth repeating.

A man I know, whom we will call Marty, was hospitalized this week for heat exhaustion. Marty cannot understand how this happened. For many years, he worked outside in his yard and he has spent many days in the sun relaxing at the pool over the course of his lifetime.

So what happened? Did Marty have enough to drink? Was his ability to sense thirst effected by being in the heat?

Have you been outside today? What a hot day! The summer days are upon us, and as the days get hotter it is important to remember the risks heat exposure poses to some of the most vulnerable members of our community: infants and seniors. Seniors, in particular, are at a risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke, two related but very different illnesses that can develop from exposure to high temperatures and lack of fluids.

A Look at Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat stroke, and though not as fatal it can easily lead to heat stroke if not treated immediately.

Those who are at most risk for heat exhaustion are seniors, people with high blood pressure, and those who work outdoors or exercise in the heat. It is important to stay hydrated and out of the heat in these months of the year, and symptoms can be hard to notice at first.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
• Heavy sweating
• Pale skin
• Muscle cramps
• Tiredness
• Weak
• Dizzy
• Headache
• Nausea/vomiting
• Fainting
• Skin that is cool and moist to the touch
• Fast and shallow breathing
• Drowsiness

What To Do If You See the Signs
If you or someone you are with is suffering from any of the symptoms of heat exhaustion it is critical to begin treatment immediately so it does not progress to heat stroke, a true medical emergency. To begin treatment, immediately begin to cool the victim down using any combination of these methods provided by the Centers for Disease Control:
• Cool shower or bath, even spray with a garden hose if you are outdoors and cannot make it inside.
• Rest in an air-conditioned environment.
• Lightweight clothing.
• Cool, nonalcoholic and non-caffeinated beverages (alcohol and caffeine can promote dehydration). If the symptoms get worse, or last longer than one hour, it is essential that you seek medical attention.

Investigating Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is the next progression in heat exhaustion if it is left untreated, and requires emergency medical attention. In its worst cases, the victim can suffer from permanent organ damage or even death. It is a form of hyperthermia, which is a raised body temperature that can severely impact your health permanently. Though our bodies generally can dissipate heat by radiation through the skin, or sweating, when extreme heat conditions occur, the body may not be able to cool itself down well enough or fast enough causing the stroke. Additionally, someone who is dehydrated may not be able to sweat fast enough or cool down quickly, which can cause their body temperature to rise too high as well. Those with heart, lung and kidney disease, as well as those taking medications that can cause them to be vulnerable to heat strokes, are at a greater risk.

Symptoms of heat stroke, though similar to heat exhaustion, are more severe, and are both physical and neurological. Physically, the victim can suffer symptoms similar to a heart attack, and typically the following are noticed: nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, headache, muscle cramps, difficulty breathing, absence of sweating-hot red or flushed dry skin, and rapid pulse. Neurological signs include: confusion, agitation, hallucinations, and strange behaviors.

If you notice someone exhibiting these signs, immediately call 911 and begin to cool the victim down. Many of the same cooling methods for heat exhaustion work well, in addition to fanning the victim to promote sweating, and monitoring their body temperature with a thermometer until the body temperature drops to 101-102 degrees and use any and all cooling methods until medical help has arrived. Always remember that prevention is the key.

Avoiding heat exhaustion and heat stroke is crucial when temperatures rise.
• The most important measures to prevent heat strokes are to avoid becoming dehydrated and to avoid vigorous physical activities in hot and humid weather.
• If you have to perform physical activities in hot weather, drink plenty of fluids (such as water and sports drinks), but avoid alcohol, caffeine and tea, which may lead to dehydration.
• Your body will need to replace important chemicals (such as sodium) as well as fluids if you sweat excessively or perform vigorous activity in the sunlight for prolonged periods.
• Take frequent breaks to hydrate yourself. Wear hats and light-colored, lightweight, loose clothes.

Berks County Area Agency on Aging recently hosted Health Calls on the monthly Berks Community Television (BCTV) program. The discussion focused on safety with the summer heat. Check out the program video at BCTV’s website, June program of “Aging Matters”.